Bethelhem Legesse Debela, Esther Gehrke, Matin Qaim · 2020
American Journal of Agricultural Economics · American Journal of Agricultural Economics

Links between Maternal Employment and Child Nutrition in Rural Tanzania

Improving child nutrition and empowering women are two important and closely connected development goals. Fostering female employment is often seen as an avenue to serve both these goals, especially if it helps to empower the mothers of undernourished children. However, maternal employment can influence child nutrition through different mechanisms, and the net effect may not necessarily be positive. We develop a theoretical model to show that maternal employment can affect child nutrition through changes in income, intrahousehold bargaining power, and time available for childcare. The links are analyzed empirically using panel data from farm households in rural Tanzania. We find that the links between maternal employment and child height‐for‐age Z‐scores (HAZ) are non‐linear. Off‐farm employment is negatively associated with child HAZ at low levels of labor supply. The association turns positive at higher levels of labor supply and negative again at very high levels. The associations between maternal on‐farm work and child nutrition are weaker and not statistically significant. These findings can help to better design development interventions that foster synergies and avoid potential tradeoffs between female empowerment and child nutrition goals.

Full publication is available on: DOI 10.1111/ajae.12113

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Matin Qaim

Matin Qaim
Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn

Matin Qaim is a food systems economist and Director at the Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn. Before joining ZEF in 2021, he was Professor of International Food Economics and Rural Development at the University of Göttingen (2007-2021), Professor of International Agricultural Trade and Food Security at the University of Hohenheim (2004-2007), and postdoctoral scientist at the University of California at Berkeley (2001-2003). Qaim’s research focuses on sustainable food systems, agricultural development, and the reduction of poverty, hunger, and malnutrition. He has over 250 academic publications and has been recognized as "Highly Cited Researcher" in 2021. Qaim is member of the German National Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina), Fellow of the American Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA), and President-Elect of the International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE). He has served on different high-level expert committees, including for the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, FAO, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the European Commission, The Royal Society, and the German Federal Government and Parliament.

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