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

Author

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  • Bhalotra, Sonia R.

    () (University of Essex)

  • Venkataramani, Atheendar

    () (Massachusetts General Hospital)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Venkataramani, Atheendar, 2013. "Cognitive Development and Infectious Disease: Gender Differences in Investments and Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 7833, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7833
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Karen Macours & Norbert Schady & Renos Vakis, 2012. "Cash Transfers, Behavioral Changes, and Cognitive Development in Early Childhood: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 247-273, April.
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    3. 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.
    4. Tom Vogl, 2012. "Height, Skills, and Labor Market Outcomes in Mexico," NBER Working Papers 18318, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Thomas, Duncan & Strauss, John, 1997. "Health and wages: Evidence on men and women in urban Brazil," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 159-185, March.
    6. Karen Macours & Norbert Schady & Renos Vakis, 2012. "Cash Transfers, Behavioral Changes, and Cognitive Development in Early Childhood: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 247-273, April.
    7. Mark M. Pitt & Mark R. Rosenzweig & Mohammad Nazmul Hassan, 2012. "Human Capital Investment and the Gender Division of Labor in a Brawn-Based Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3531-3560, December.
    8. 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.
    9. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2004. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1019-1053, October.
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    11. Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Zhang, Junsen, 2013. "Economic growth, comparative advantage, and gender differences in schooling outcomes: Evidence from the birthweight differences of Chinese twins," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 245-260.
    12. 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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    Cited by:

    1. Bhalotra, Sonia & Karlsson, Martin & Nilsson, Therese, 2014. "Life Expectancy and Mother-Baby Interventions. Evidence from A Historical Trial," Ruhr Economic Papers 504, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    2. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie & Valentina Duque, 2017. "Childhood Circumstances and Adult Outcomes: Act II," NBER Working Papers 23017, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Knutsson, Daniel, 2017. "Water Improvement and Health: Historical Evidence on the Effect of Filtering Water on Urban Mortality," Research Papers in Economics 2017:2, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
    4. Akresh, Richard & Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Leone, Marinella & Osili, Una O., 2017. "First and Second Generation Impacts of the Biafran War," IZA Discussion Papers 10938, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Anukriti, S & Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Tam, Hiu, 2016. "On the Quantity and Quality of Girls: New Evidence on Abortion, Fertility, and Parental Investments," IZA Discussion Papers 10271, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Elisabetta Aurino & Francesco Burchi, 2014. "Children’s Multidimensional Health and Medium-Run Cognitive Skills in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (Documento de Trabajo 129 – Salud multidimensional de los niños y sus habilidades cognitivas en e," Documentos de Trabajo (Niños del Milenio-GRADE) ninosm129, Niños del Milenio (Young Lives).
    7. Bhalotra, Sonia & Karlsson, Martin & Nilsson, Therese, 2015. "Infant health and longevity: evidence from a historical trial in Sweden," ISER Working Paper Series 2015-08, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    8. Bhalotra, S.; & Karlsson, M.; & Nilsson, T.; & Schwarz, N.;, 2018. "Infant Health, Cognitive Performance and Earnings: Evidence from Inception of the Welfare State in Sweden," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 18/06, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    9. repec:zbw:rwirep:0504 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Sonia Bhalotra & Martin Karlsson & Therese Nilsson, 2014. "Life Expectancy and Mother-Baby Interventions. Evidence from A Historical Trial," Ruhr Economic Papers 0504, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    11. Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Karlsson, Martin & Nilsson, Therese & Schwarz, Nina, 2016. "Infant Health, Cognitive Performance and Earnings: Evidence from Inception of the Welfare State in Sweden," IZA Discussion Papers 10339, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    water; diarrhea; cognitive development; test scores; early life health interventions; brain-brawn; gender; Mexico; dynamic complementarity;

    JEL classification:

    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health

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