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How Important is Parental Education for Child Nutrition?

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  • Alderman, Harold
  • Headey, Derek D.

Abstract

Existing evidence on the impacts of parental education on child nutrition is plagued by both internal and external validity concerns. In this paper we try to address these concerns through a novel econometric analysis of 376,992 preschool children from 56 developing countries. We compare a naïve least square model to specifications that include cluster fixed effects and cohort-based educational rankings to reduce biases from omitted variables before gauging sensitivity to sub-samples and exploring potential explanations of education-nutrition linkages. We find that the estimated nutritional returns to parental education are: (a) substantially reduced in models that include fixed effects and cohort rankings; (b) larger for mothers than for fathers; (c) generally increasing, and minimal for primary education; (d) increasing with household wealth; (e) larger in countries/regions with higher burdens of undernutrition; (f) larger in countries/regions with higher schooling quality; and (g) highly variable across country sub-samples. These results imply substantial uncertainty and variability in the returns to education, but results from the more stringent models imply that even the achievement of very ambitious education targets would only lead to modest reductions in stunting rates in high-burden countries. We speculate that education might have more impact on the nutritional status of the next generation if school curricula focused on directly improving health and nutritional knowledge of future parents.

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  • Alderman, Harold & Headey, Derek D., 2017. "How Important is Parental Education for Child Nutrition?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 448-464.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:94:y:2017:i:c:p:448-464
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2017.02.007
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    1. Derek Headey & David Stifel & Liangzhi You & Zhe Guo, 2018. "Remoteness, urbanization, and child nutrition in sub‐Saharan Africa," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 49(6), pages 765-775, November.
    2. Derek Headey & Kalle Hirvonen & John Hoddinott, 2018. "Animal Sourced Foods and Child Stunting," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 100(5), pages 1302-1319.
    3. Sukhwinder Singh & Andrew D. Jones & Ruth S. DeFries & Meha Jain, 2020. "The association between crop and income diversity and farmer intra-household dietary diversity in India," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 12(2), pages 369-390, April.
    4. Le, Kien & Nguyen, My, 2020. "Shedding light on maternal education and child health in developing countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 133(C).
    5. Harold Alderman & Derek Headey, 2018. "The timing of growth faltering has important implications for observational analyses of the underlying determinants of nutrition outcomes," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 13(4), pages 1-16, April.
    6. Headey, Derek & Hirvonen, Kalle & Hoddinott, John, 2017. "Animal sourced foods and child stunting: Evidence from 112,887 children in 46 countries," 2018 Allied Social Sciences Association (ASSA) Annual Meeting, January 5-7, 2018, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 264958, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    7. Aysıt Tansel & Deniz Karaoğlan, 2019. "The Effect of Education on Health Behaviors and Obesity in Turkey: Instrumental Variable Estimates from a Developing Country," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 31(5), pages 1416-1448, December.
    8. Skoufias,Emmanuel & Vinha,Katja Pauliina, 2020. "Child Stature, Maternal Education, and Early Childhood Development," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9396, The World Bank.
    9. Marphatia, Akanksha A. & Reid, Alice M. & Yajnik, Chittaranjan S., 2019. "Developmental origins of secondary school dropout in rural India and its differential consequences by sex: A biosocial life-course analysis," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 8-23.
    10. Suman Chakrabarti & Samuel P. Scott & Harold Alderman & Purnima Menon & Daniel O. Gilligan, 2021. "Intergenerational nutrition benefits of India’s national school feeding program," Nature Communications, Nature, vol. 12(1), pages 1-10, December.
    11. Dimitrova, Anna, 2021. "Seasonal droughts and the risk of childhood undernutrition in Ethiopia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 141(C).
    12. Nazia Binte Ali & Tazeen Tahsina & Dewan Md Emdadul Hoque & Mohammad Mehedi Hasan & Afrin Iqbal & Tanvir M Huda & Shams El Arifeen, 2019. "Association of food security and other socio-economic factors with dietary diversity and nutritional statuses of children aged 6-59 months in rural Bangladesh," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 14(8), pages 1-18, August.
    13. Amaghouss, Jabrane & Ibourk, Aomar, 2019. "Higher Education and Economic Growth: A Comparative Analysis of World Regions Trajectories," Economia Internazionale / International Economics, Camera di Commercio Industria Artigianato Agricoltura di Genova, vol. 72(3), pages 321-350.

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