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Sins of the fathers: The intergenerational legacy of the 1959-1961 Great Chinese Famine on children's cognitive development:

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  • Tan, Chih Ming
  • Tan, Zhibo
  • Zhang, Xiaobo

Abstract

The intergenerational effect of fetal exposure to malnutrition on cognitive ability has rarely been studied for human beings in large part due to lack of data. In this paper, we exploit a natural experiment, the Great Chinese Famine of 1959–1961, and employ a novel dataset, the China Family Panel Studies, to explore the intergenerational legacy of early childhood health shocks on the cognitive abilities of the children of parents born during the famine. We find that daughters born to rural fathers who experienced the famine in early childhood score lower in major tests than sons, whereas children born to female survivors are not affected.

Suggested Citation

  • Tan, Chih Ming & Tan, Zhibo & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2014. "Sins of the fathers: The intergenerational legacy of the 1959-1961 Great Chinese Famine on children's cognitive development:," IFPRI discussion papers 1351, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:ifprid:1351
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    Cited by:

    1. Zichen Deng & Maarten Lindeboom, 2021. "Early-life Famine Exposure, Hunger Recall and Later-life Health," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 21-054/V, Tinbergen Institute.
    2. Caruso, Germán & Miller, Sebastian, 2015. "Long run effects and intergenerational transmission of natural disasters: A case study on the 1970 Ancash Earthquake," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 134-150.
    3. Deng, Zichen & Lindeboom, Maarten, 2021. "Early-Life Famine Exposure, Hunger Recall and Later-Life Health," IZA Discussion Papers 14487, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Cormac Ó Gráda, 2016. "“The Last, the Most Dreadful Resource of Nature”: Economic-Historical Reflections on Famine," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 44(2), pages 225-241, June.
    5. Wang, Jun & Yang, Juan & Li, Bo, 2017. "Pain of disasters: The educational cost of exogenous shocks evidence from Tangshan Earthquake in 1976," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 27-49.
    6. Chih Ming Tan & Xiao Wang & Xiaobo Zhang, 2019. "It’s All in the Stars: The Chinese Zodiac and the Effects of Parental Investments on Offspring’s Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Development," Working Paper series 19-10, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    7. Xu, Hongwei & Li, Lydia & Zhang, Zhenmei & Liu, Jinyu, 2016. "Is natural experiment a cure? Re-examining the long-term health effects of China's 1959–1961 famine," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 110-122.
    8. Adnan M. S. Fakir, 2016. "Revisiting the child health-wealth nexus," Health Economics Review, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 1-13, December.

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    Keywords

    Famine; Hunger; malnutrition; Nutrition; Children; Agricultural policies; Economic development; Fathers; Mental ability; Genes; Chromosomes; epigenetics; intergenerational transmission; resilience;
    All these keywords.

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