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Cognitive Development and Infectious Disease: Gender Difference in Investments and Outcomes

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  • Sonia R Bhalotra
  • Atheendar S Venkataramani

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Abstract

We exploit exogenous variation in the risk of waterborne disease created by implementation of a major water reform in Mexico in 1991 to investigate impacts of infant exposure on indicators of cognitive development and academic achievement in late childhood. We estimate that a one standard deviation reduction in childhood diarrhea mortality rates results in about a 0.1 standard deviation increase in test scores, but only for girls. We show that a reason for the gender differentiated impacts is that the water reform induces parents to make complementary investments in education that favor girls, consistent with their comparative advantage in skilled occupations. The results provide novel evidence of the potential for clean water provision to narrow test score gaps across countries and, within countries, across gender.

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Paper provided by University of Essex, Department of Economics in its series Economics Discussion Papers with number 745.

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Date of creation: 11 Dec 2013
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Handle: RePEc:esx:essedp:745

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  1. Edward Miguel & Michael Kremer, 2004. "Worms: Identifying Impacts on Education and Health in the Presence of Treatment Externalities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 159-217, 01.
  2. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," NBER Working Papers 12006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Watson, Tara, 2006. "Public health investments and the infant mortality gap: Evidence from federal sanitation interventions on U.S. Indian reservations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(8-9), pages 1537-1560, September.
  4. Thomas, D. & Strauss, J., 1997. "Health and Wages: Evidence on Men and Women in Urban Brazil," Papers 97-05, RAND - Reprint Series.
  5. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2003. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," PIER Working Paper Archive 03-036, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  6. Robert Jensen, 2012. "Do Labor Market Opportunities Affect Young Women's Work and Family Decisions? Experimental Evidence from India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(2), pages 753-792.
  7. Venkataramani, Atheendar S., 2012. "Early life exposure to malaria and cognition in adulthood: Evidence from Mexico," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 767-780.
  8. Pitt, Mark M. & Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Hassan, Nazmul, 2010. "Human Capital Investment and the Gender Division of Labor in a Brawn-Based Economy," Working Papers 83, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  9. Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Zhang, Junsen, 2013. "Economic growth, comparative advantage, and gender differences in schooling outcomes: Evidence from the birthweight differences of Chinese twins," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 245-260.
  10. Tom Vogl, 2012. "Height, Skills, and Labor Market Outcomes in Mexico," NBER Working Papers 18318, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Robert Jensen, 2010. "The (Perceived) Returns to Education and the Demand for Schooling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(2), pages 515-548, May.
  12. Michelle Rendall, 2010. "Brain versus Brawn: The Realization of Women's Comparative Advantage," 2010 Meeting Papers 926, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  13. Adrienne M. Lucas, 2010. "Malaria Eradication and Educational Attainment: Evidence from Paraguay and Sri Lanka," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 46-71, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Elisabetta Aurino & Francesco Burchi, 2014. "Children’s Multidimensional Health and Medium-Run Cognitive Skills in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (Documento de Trabajo 129 – Salud multidimensional de los niños y sus habilidades cognitivas," Documentos de Trabajo (Niños del Milenio-GRADE) ninosm129, Niños del Milenio (Young Lives).

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