DOI: 10.1111/saje.12354 ISSN:

Ruggedness and child health outcomes: Evidence from Burundi, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Nigeria

Carolyn Chisadza, Matthew Clance, Fritz van der Merwe, Eleni Yitbarek
  • Economics and Econometrics


This paper examines the effect of terrain ruggedness on child stunting in Burundi, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Nigeria. Using a cross‐section analysis with data from the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and a measure that captures variation in the terrains of the countries, we find that the more difficult it is to traverse the terrain in Burundi, Cameroon and Nigeria, the higher the likelihood of child stunting. However, this association is not consistent for Ethiopia until we account for the Oromia region, which has the capital city Addis Ababa. These results remain robust with the inclusion of socio‐economic factors related to child health (e.g. maternal health, maternal education and household income), demographic factors (e.g. gender of child), other geographical factors (e.g. rainfall patterns and malaria prevalence) and survey and region effects. The results suggest that there are complementary factors to geography that may contribute to poor child health outcomes, such as the quality of infrastructure and the ability to access healthcare services. Given that child health is a key development outcome, understanding such spatial variations associated with child health inequalities can assist in designing effective intervention programmes and allocating resources where they are most needed.

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