A dose-response model of road development and child nutrition in Nepal

Transportation development accompanies economic development, both as a driver of growth and as an outcome of economy-wide investments made possible by growth. Evidence of the effects of roads and road quality on human well-being is limited. This paper studies the association between district-level transportation infrastructure and district-average child nutrition outcomes in Nepal. We combine two rounds of nationally representative data on child growth from the 2006 and 2011 Nepal Demographic and Health Surveys with district-level information on roads and road quality. We estimate a dose-response function for height-for-age and weight-for-height z-scores. Results suggest that roads and road quality matter for short- and long-term nutrition outcomes for children under five years of age. Using a spatial econometric model we also observe statistically significant geographic spillovers from roads, suggesting broad and beneficial health and nutrition payoffs from transportation development.

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