Why Does Mother's Schooling Raise Child Health in Developing Countries? Evidence from Morocco
Mother's education is often found to be positively correlated with child health and nutrition in developing countries, yet the causal mechanisms are poorly understood. Three possible mechanisms are: (1) Formal education directly teaches health knowledge to future mothers; (2) Literacy and numeracy skills acquired in school assist future mothers in diagnosing and treating child health problems; and (3) Exposure to modern society from formal schooling makes women more receptive to modern medical treatments. This paper uses data from Morocco to assess the role played by these different mechanisms. Mother's health knowledge alone appears to be the crucial skill for raising child health. In Morocco, such knowledge is primarily obtained outside the classroom, although it is obtained using literacy and numeracy skills learned in school; there is no evidence that health knowledge is directly taught in schools. This suggests that teaching of health knowledge skills in Moroccan schools could substantially raise child health and nutrition in Morocco.
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