Original Research

Impact of malnutrition on education inequality in Africa: A partial wavelet coherence analysis

Rasaq Raimi, Andrew Phiri
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 27, No 1 | a5268 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v27i1.5268 | © 2024 Rasaq Raimi, Andrew Phiri | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 August 2023 | Published: 20 March 2024

About the author(s)

Rasaq Raimi, Department of Economics, Faculty of Business and Economic Studies, Nelson Mandela University, Gqeberha, South Africa
Andrew Phiri, Department of Economics, Faculty of Business and Economic Studies, Nelson Mandela University, Gqeberha, South Africa; and Department of Economics, University of Religions and Denominations, Qom, Iran, Islamic Republic of


Background: The scourge of malnutrition in Africa is a significant obstacle to children’s education, impeding their learning ability and perpetuating poor health.

Aim: In line with Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 1 and 2 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 1 and 4 objectives, the study examined the impact of malnutrition on education inequality before and during development goals, in some selected African countries, based on data availability.

Setting: The analysis covered the period of 1998–2020 and the data for the study were sourced from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO), and World Bank Online Data Base among other sources.

Method: The authors employ a continuous wavelet coherence analytical tool that considers time–frequency variations in the co-movement to examine the correlation between the series in 28 African countries from 1998 to 2020.

Results: Results revealed a positive high-to-low-frequency co-movement between the two series, with malnutrition causing educational inequality from 1998 to 2010, and yet disappearing in subsequent periods. All in all, our findings indicate that malnutrition had a positive effect on educational inequality until the year 2010.

Conclusion: The authors conclude that high malnutrition rates impeded educational equality in numerous African countries during the 1990s and 2000s. However, efforts to eradicate hunger, policy intervention in education, and other factors may have altered this narrative in the post-2010 era.

Contribution: While previous African studies focused on child growth, the gender gap in education, and the incidence of poverty, completely neglecting the malnutrition variables, in this study a more profound understanding of education inequality in Africa is provided and the correlation between malnutrition and education inequality is considered which was not covered by previous authors.


education inequality; malnutrition; wavelet coherence; partial wavelet coherence; Africa.

JEL Codes

C02: Mathematical Methods; C65: Miscellaneous Mathematical Tools; D63: Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement; I24: Education and Inequality

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education


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