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Cognitive Development and Infectious Disease: Gender Differences in Investments and Outcomes

  • Bhalotra, Sonia R.

    ()

    (University of Essex)

  • Venkataramani, Atheendar

    ()

    (Massachusetts General Hospital)

We exploit exogenous variation in the risk of waterborne disease created by implementation of a major water reform in Mexico in 1991 to investigate impacts of infant exposure on indicators of cognitive development and academic achievement in late childhood. We estimate that a one standard deviation reduction in childhood diarrhea mortality rates results in about a 0.1 standard deviation increase in test scores, but only for girls. We show that a reason for the gender differentiated impacts is that the water reform induces parents to make complementary investments in education that favor girls, consistent with their comparative advantage in skilled occupations. The results provide novel evidence of the potential for clean water provision to narrow test score gaps across countries and, within countries, across gender.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7833.

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Length: 66 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7833
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  1. Pitt, Mark M. & Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Hassan, Nazmul, 2010. "Human Capital Investment and the Gender Division of Labor in a Brawn-Based Economy," Working Papers 83, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  2. Robert Jensen, 2012. "Do Labor Market Opportunities Affect Young Women's Work and Family Decisions? Experimental Evidence from India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(2), pages 753-792.
  3. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2004. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," NBER Working Papers 10522, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Macours, Karen & Schady, Norbert & Vakis, Renos, 2008. "Cash transfers, behavioral changes, and cognitive development in early childhood : evidence from a randomized experiment," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4759, The World Bank.
  5. Rosenzweig, Mark & Zhang, Junsen, 2012. "Economic Growth, Comparative Advantage, and Gender Differences in Schooling Outcomes: Evidence from the Birthweight Differences of Chinese Twins," Working Papers 98, Yale 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. Seema Jayachandran & Adriana Lleras-Muney & Kimberly V. Smith, 2009. "Modern Medicine and the 20th Century Decline in Mortality: Evidence on the Impact of Sulfa Drugs," NBER Working Papers 15089, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Tom Vogl, 2012. "Height, Skills, and Labor Market Outcomes in Mexico," NBER Working Papers 18318, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Adrienne M. Lucas, 2010. "Malaria Eradication and Educational Attainment: Evidence from Paraguay and Sri Lanka," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 46-71, April.
  10. Michelle Rendall, 2010. "Brain versus brawn: the realization of women's comparative advantage," IEW - Working Papers 491, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  11. Robert Jensen, 2010. "The (Perceived) Returns to Education and the Demand for Schooling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(2), pages 515-548, May.
  12. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
  13. Thomas, D. & Strauss, J., 1997. "Health and Wages: Evidence on Men and Women in Urban Brazil," Papers 97-05, RAND - Reprint Series.
  14. Edward Miguel & Michael Kremer, 2004. "Worms: Identifying Impacts on Education and Health in the Presence of Treatment Externalities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 159-217, 01.
  15. Watson, Tara, 2006. "Public health investments and the infant mortality gap: Evidence from federal sanitation interventions on U.S. Indian reservations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(8-9), pages 1537-1560, September.
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