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Iron Deficiency and Schooling Attainment in Peru

Listed author(s):
  • Chong, Alberto
  • Cohen, Isabelle
  • Field, Erica
  • Nakasone, Eduardo
  • Torero, Maximo

A key question in development economics is whether nutritional deficiencies generate intergenerational poverty traps by reducing the earnings potential of children born into poverty. To assess the causal influence on human capital of one of the most widespread micronutrient deficiencies, supplemental iron pills were made available at a local health center in rural Peru and adolescents were encouraged to take them up via classroom media messages. Results from school administrative records provide novel evidence that reducing iron deficiency results almost immediately in a large and significant improvement in school performance. For anemic students, an average of 10 100mg iron pills over three months improves average test scores by 0.4 standard deviations and increases the likelihood of grade progression by 11%. Supplementation also raises anemic students’ aspirations for the future. Both results indicate that cognitive deficits from iron-deficiency anemia contribute to a nutrition-based poverty trap. Our findings also demonstrate that, with low-cost outreach efforts in schools, supplementation programs offered through a public clinic can be both affordable and effective in reducing rates of adolescent IDA.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/212629
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Paper provided by International Association of Agricultural Economists in its series 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy with number 212629.

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Date of creation: 08 May 2015
Handle: RePEc:ags:iaae15:212629
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.iaae-agecon.org/
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  1. Jeffrey B. Liebman & Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2015. "Would People Behave Differently If They Better Understood Social Security? Evidence from a Field Experiment," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 275-299, February.
  2. Jeffrey R Kling & Jeffrey B Liebman & Lawrence F Katz, 2007. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 83-119, 01.
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