Up in Smoke? Agricultural Commercialization, Rising Food prices and Stunting in Malawi
The study uses nationally representative household survey data from Malawi to estimate the effect of household adoption of tobacco production on child height-for-age z-scores. The analysis isolates the causal effect by comparing two samples of children that differ in their exposure to staple food price shocks during the early child development window (from conception through two years of age). The analysis finds that household tobacco production in the year of or the year after child birth, combined with exposure to a staple food price shock, lowers the child height-for-age z-score by 1.27, implying a 70-percent drop in z-score. These cash-crop-producing households were disproportionately affected by the shock, and children more likely to be stunted than non-tobacco-producing households.