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Early life exposure to malaria and cognition in adulthood: Evidence from Mexico

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  • Venkataramani, Atheendar S.

Abstract

This study examines the impact of early life malaria exposure on cognition in sample of Mexican adults, using the nationwide introduction of malaria eradication efforts to identify causal impacts. The core findings are that birth year exposure to malaria eradication was associated with increases in Raven Progressive Matrices test scores and consumption expenditures, but not schooling. Additionally, cohorts born after eradication both entered and exited school earlier than their pre-eradication counterparts. These effects were only seen for men and explanations for this are assessed. Collectively, these findings suggest that improvements in infant health help explain secular increases in cognitive test scores, that better cognition may link early life health to adulthood earnings, and that human capital investments through childhood and young adulthood respond sensitively to market returns to early life endowment shocks.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:31:y:2012:i:5:p:767-780
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2012.06.003
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    Keywords

    Malaria; Cognition; Early childhood; Education; Mexico; Eradication; Flynn Effect; Parental investments;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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