Big numbers about small children: estimating the economic benefits of addressing undernutrition

Speaker: Harold Alderman, senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Chair:  Emmanuel Jimenez, executive director, 3ie

Chief discussant: Prof Ramanan Laxminarayan, director, Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy 

Discussant: Shweta Khandelwal, associate professor and research scientist, Public Health Foundation of India 

Date: 10 May 2016, 3.30-5.00 p.m

Venue: Seminar hall 3, Kamladevi complex, India International Centre, New Delhi -110003

Different approaches have been used to estimate the economic benefits of reducing undernutrition and to estimate the costs of investing in such programmes on a global scale. Despite being based on evidence from well-designed efficacy trials, most of these studies require a number of assumptions to project the impact to larger populations and to translate the value of the expected improvement in nutritional status into economic terms. This presentation by Harold Alderman provides a short critique of some approaches to estimating the benefits of investments in child nutrition. He also presents an alternative set of estimates based on different core data. These new estimates reinforce the basic conclusions of the existing literature that the economic value from reducing undernutrition in undernourished populations is likely to be substantial.

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About the speaker: Harold Alderman has both a master’s degree in nutrition (Cornell) and a PhD in economics (Harvard). He has spent several years researching the economics of nutrition and food policy. During his stint at the World Bank, he divided his time between the Development Research Group and the Africa region where he advised on social protection policy. His current research at IFPRI focuses on the linkages between nutrition and early child development and the means by which nutrition and social protection programmes contribute to long-term economic growth.


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