Malnutrition and Socioeconomic Status of South African Children

Child health and nutrition is important not only for its own sake, but because the negative consequences of poor health in childhood are felt throughout the entire course of life. There is significant evidence that malnourishment in childhood has negative effects on future health, educational and labour market outcomes. This, together with the strong relationship between parental socioeconomic status and child health, suggests that poor health in childhood could be an important mechanism in the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic status.


Under-nutrition among children remains a pervasive public health problem in developing countries. In South Africa, a nationally representative survey conducted in 1993 found one in four pre-school children to be stunted, and one in 10 to be underweight for their age with pronounced socioeconomic and racial inequities in the distribution of malnutrition. However, research into malnutrition in South Africa has since been hampered by a dearth of nationally representative data. This project will take advantage of the new longitudinal National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) together with other South African datasets to investigate a range of issues around the links between malnutrition and socioeconomic status.

Dates: August 2010 – August 2015

Funding: National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Centre