Clean Cooking for Kids: Long-Term Effects of LPG Use on Child Well-being

Monday, June 24, 2019: 1:15 PM
Jackson - Mezzanine Level (Marriott Wardman Park Hotel)

Presenter: Agustina Laurito

Co-Authors: Ipsita Das; Maria M Laurito

Discussant: Dr. Edward N. Okeke

Approximately 3 billion people depend on solid fuels (wood, dung, and crop residues) and kerosene for cooking, with India having the highest number of biomass fuel users. Household air pollution (HAP) from cookstoves and open fires in poorly ventilated kitchens is a significant public health threat. HAP leads to low birth weight, infant mortality, and causes respiratory illnesses among children below five years of age. Since young children typically spend a large amount of time with mothers and caregivers who have cooking responsibilities, they experience relatively high levels of exposure to HAP. In this paper, we extend the current literature by investigating the long-term effects of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) adoption –one of the cleanest cooking technologies available in the Indian market–on child health. We focus on three anthropometric measures that capture stunting (height for age), wasting (weight for height), and underweight (weight for age).

We use data from the Indian Human Development Survey (IHDS), conducted by the University of Maryland, College Park and the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), India. The first wave (IHDS-I) was collected between 2004-2005 and is a nationally representative panel of 41,554 households including 215,754 individuals. IHDS-II, collected between 2011-2012, re-interviewed most households and added households not interviewed in the first round of data collection (N=42,152). The first wave has anthropometric measurements for all children ages 0 to 11 years and the second wave has them for all children between 0 and 18 years of age.

We use a sample of respondents that we observe in both waves, and two distinct empirical approaches that account of the non-random adoption of clean cooking technologies. First, we use a difference-in-difference design to estimate the long-term effect of early-life adoption of LPG on child anthropometrics. We exploit variation in age of exposure to LPG cooking and compare the change in outcomes (i.e. height for age) between waves 1 and 2 for children exposed to LPG between ages 12 and 60 months to the change in outcomes (i.e. height for age) for those in the same age cohort but that benefited from clean cooking at older ages (after wave 1). This strategy should yield causal estimates of the long-term effects of reduction of early-life exposure to HAP on child anthropometrics, after controlling for other individual, household, and contextual sources of bias.

Second, we explore if adoption of clean cooking after age 5 helps ameliorate the negative effects of early life exposure to HAP. We focus on the group of children in households that adopted LPG cooking between waves and were over 5 years of age. We perform a within child analysis using individual fixed effects to explore effects of LPG adoption on anthropometric and cognitive measures (reading, writing, and numeracy).