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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Effect of Economic Crises on Nutritional Status: Evidence from Russia

  • Author(s): Stillman, Steven
  • Thomas, Duncan
  • et al.

This paper uses data from the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS) to examine the relationship between six dimensions of nutritional status and household resources paying special attention to the distinction between longer-run resources and short-run fluctuations in resources. Between 1996 and 1998, Russia experienced a dramatic decline in economic activity which was followed by an equally dramatic rise between 1998 and 2000. We exploit this fact in combination with the panel nature of RLMS to measure the effect of changes in household resources on nutritional status. Nutritional status appears to be very resilient to variation in household resources. Gross energy intake, adult body mass index (BMI), and child stature all change very little as expenditure deviates from its long-run average. In contrast, we find a positive, significant and substantively large effect of longer-run resources on energy intake, two indicators of diet quality, adult body mass index (BMI), and child stature. It appears that individuals and households are able to weather large economic crises at least in terms of maintaining body mass and energy intake.

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