The Impact of Child Health and Nutrition on Education in Less Developed Countries
Hundreds of millions of children in less developed countries suffer from poor health and nutrition. Children in most less developed countries also complete far fewer years of schooling, and learn less per year of schooling, than do children in developed countries. Recent research has shown that poor health and nutrition among children reduces their time in school and their learning during that time. This implies that programs or policies that increase children's health status could also improve their education outcomes. Given the importance of education for economic development, this link could be a key mechanism to improve the quality of life in less developed countries. Many researchers have attempted to estimate the impact of child health on education outcomes, but there are formidable obstacles to obtaining credible estimates. Data are often scarce, although much less scarce than in previous decades. Even more importantly, there are many possible sources of bias when attempting to estimate relationships between child health and education. This Chapter provides an overview of what has been learned thus far. Although significant progress has been made, much more research is still needed - especially in estimating the long term impact of child health status on living standards. The chapter first reviews some basic facts about child health and education in less developed countries. It then provides a framework for analyzing the impact of health and nutrition on education, describes estimation problems and potential solutions, and summarizes recent empirical evidence, including both non-experimental and experimental studies. It concludes with suggestions for future research directions.
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