The Effect of Infant Malnutrition on Future Learning Outcomes of Children in Developing Countries
Masood, Junaid Sadiq
Well-designed and scalable interventions are required to promote human development in vulnerable populations and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Infant malnutrition is a critical issue in developing countries. There is a growing literature that recognizes the adverse impact of malnutrition of children on their future health, educational and labor market outcomes. This paper explores the relationship between infant malnutrition and future schooling outcomes using data from the Young Lives Survey. Using this panel dataset, I track children throughout the first fifteen years of their life and analyze the effect of stunting on future educational achievement. It is important to note that both child malnutrition and future learning outcomes are endogenous variables and influenced by household investment decisions. In the absence of a robust instrumental variables approach, I use a different identification strategy to capture the effect of stunting. Focusing on firstborn Indian male children between the age of 1 and 15, who are known to be favored by parents, I find that children stunted in infancy score lower on reading, mathematics and vocabulary tests. From a policy perspective, my findings are a testimony for the importance of policy programs aimed at combatting malnutrition among children in developing countries.
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