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Endowments and Investment within the Household: Evidence from Iodine Supplementation in Tanzania


  • Achyuta Adhvaryu

    () (MEPH Health Policy and Administration, Yale University)

  • Anant Nyshadham

    () (Department of Economics, Yale University)


Standard theories of resource allocation within the household posit that parents’ investments in their children reflect a combination of children’s endowments and parents’ preferences for child quality. We study how changes in children’s cognitive endowments affect the distribution of parental investments amongst siblings, using data from a large-scale iodine supplementation program in Tanzania. We find that parents strongly reinforce the higher cognitive endowments of children who received in utero iodine supplementation, by investing more in vaccinations and early life nutrition. The effect of siblings’ endowments on own investments depends on the extent to which quality across children is substitutable in parents’ utility functions. Neonatal investments, made before cognitive endowments become apparent to parents, are unaffected. Fertility is unaffected as well, suggesting that inframarginal quality improvements can spur investment responses even when the quantity-quality tradeoff is not readily observable.

Suggested Citation

  • Achyuta Adhvaryu & Anant Nyshadham, 2011. "Endowments and Investment within the Household: Evidence from Iodine Supplementation in Tanzania," Working Papers 998, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:998

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Douglas Almond & Lena Edlund & Mårten Palme, 2009. "Chernobyl's Subclinical Legacy: Prenatal Exposure to Radioactive Fallout and School Outcomes in Sweden," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1729-1772.
    2. Erica Field & Omar Robles & Maximo Torero, 2009. "Iodine Deficiency and Schooling Attainment in Tanzania," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(4), pages 140-169, October.
    3. Ashlesha Datar & M. Kilburn & David Loughran, 2010. "Endowments and parental investments in infancy and early childhood," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 47(1), pages 145-162, February.
    4. David Cutler & Winnie Fung & Michael Kremer & Monica Singhal & Tom Vogl, 2010. "Early-Life Malaria Exposure and Adult Outcomes: Evidence from Malaria Eradication in India," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 72-94, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. John Parman, "undated". "Childhood Health and Sibling Outcomes: The Shared Burden of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic," Working Papers 121, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
    2. John Parman, 2013. "Childhood Health and Sibling Outcomes: The Shared Burden and Benefit of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic," NBER Working Papers 19505, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Bengtsson, Niklas & Peterson, Stefan & Sävje, Fredrik, 2013. "Revisiting the Educational Effects of Fetal Iodine Deficiency," Working Paper Series, Center for Labor Studies 2013:13, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    4. Prashant Bharadwaj & Petter Lundborg & Dan-Olof Rooth, 2018. "Birth Weight in the Long Run," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 53(1), pages 189-231.
    5. Bengtsson, Niklas & Petersen, Stefan & Sävje, Fredrik, 2013. "Revisiting the Educational E ects of Fetal Iodine De ciency," Working Paper Series 2013:21, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    6. 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.
    7. Douglas Almond & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2013. "Fetal Origins and Parental Responses," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 5(1), pages 37-56, May.
    8. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie, 2011. "Killing Me Softly: The Fetal Origins Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 153-172, Summer.

    More about this item


    endowments; intra-household; child health; Tanzania;

    JEL classification:

    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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