The Birthweight Gains from Trade: Chinese Imports and Infant Health in Sub-Saharan Africa
Jorge M. Agüero and Patralekha Ukil
A growing number of papers has focused on the impact of Chinese manufacturing imports in developed economies. However, less is known about the impact on developing economies, explicitly in Sub-Saharan Africa, even though the magnitude of China-Africa bilateral trade has increased by almost 10 times since the early 2000s. Unlike advanced economies, Chinese imports to Africa are taking place at the time when the region is yet to experience a structural transformation away from agriculture and has an incipient manufacturing sector. Thus, the increased trade with China could have differential impacts on health outcomes compared to the negative effects observed in advanced economies. We find evidence supporting this claim using a sample of over 350,000 births from 22 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our identification strategy relies on the comparison of siblings from the same mother who were born at different levels of Chinese imports to their country. We find that increased exposure to Chinese imports led to a large gain in birthweight. This finding is robust to several specifications and is mainly driven by a reduction in the incidence of low birthweight and from improvements among children born to less-educated mothers.
Jorge Agüero es profesor asociado del departamento de economía y del Programa de Estudios Latinoamericanos de la Universidad de Connecticut (EEUU), donde además es co-fundador del Laboratorio de Economía de la Salud. Es investigador afiliado de la Unidad de Investigación de Empleo y Desarrollo de la Universidad de Cape Town (SALDRU, Africa del Sur) y del Grupo de Análisis para el Desarrollo (Grade, Perú). Su trabajo ha publicado en revistas especializadas como el Journal of Human Resources, Journal of Development Economics, Journal of Health Ecnomics y el American Economic Review. El Dr. Agüero obtuvo el grado de bachiller por la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, el Master por la Universitad Pompeu Frabra (España) y su doctorado por la Universidad de Wisconsin, Madison (EEUU).