This study contributes to the understanding of key drivers of stunted growth, a factor widely recognized as major impediment to human capital development. Specifically, it examines the effects of sanitation coverage and usage on child height for age in a semi-urban setting in Northern India. The study uses instrumental variables to control for endogeneity of sanitation usage coverage. The study finds that sanitation coverage plays a significant and positive role in height growth during the first years of life.
- Diseases have been linked to stunting but have also shown direct associations with short and long-term effects on human capital. Understanding the potential of improving the disease environment that children live in is hence of direct policy relevance.
- While a growing body of literature is contributing to our understanding of the con- sequences of stunting, knowledge is still limited with respect to the key drivers of low height for age. It is generally understood that inadequate diet and diseases are import- ant immediate causes of stunting but dealing with the endogeneity of these inputs remains a challenge in the literature.
- Rigorous evidence on the potential of improvements in water access and quality exists and the complementarities between water and sanitation have been recognized. The understanding of the role of sanitation itself is however still limited.
- Our results suggest that increases in sanitation usage rates significantly affect children's height. This impact seems to be particularly relevant for girls.