Working Paper

Break it down: A disaggregated analysis of the effects of aid on stunting

Date Published

Feb 28, 2023


Dick Durevall, Ann-Sofie Isaksson



Durevall, D. and Isaksson, A. (2023). Break it down: A disaggregated analysis of the effects of aid on stunting. Working Paper #122. Williamsburg, VA: AidData at William & Mary.


Motivated by a recent setback in the fight against child malnutrition, this study explores whether aid projects help to reduce stunting, or impaired growth, among children close to project sites. Focusing on Malawi, a country with very high stunting prevalence and for which we have access to geo-referenced data on aid projects from a broad range of donors, we geographically match spatial data on 778 aid project sites of 22 different donors with anthropometric and background data on 26,604 children under the age of 5. The detailed data allows for disaggregated analysis comparing aid impacts across sectors, donors, and locations. To identify the effect of aid, we rely on spatial and temporal variation in aid project coverage and survey rollout, coupled with variation in the child year of birth in relation to project start. The empirical results consistently indicate a positive impact of early-life aid exposure on child growth. The positive treatment effect, observed for children born 0-3 years after project start, is seemingly driven by multilateral aid and projects focusing on rural development, infrastructure, vulnerability and education.

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