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Fetal Malnutrition and Academic Success: Evidence from Muslim Immigrants in Denmark

Author

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  • Greve, Jane

    (VIVE - The Danish Centre for Social Science Research)

  • Schultz-Nielsen, Marie Louise

    (Rockwool Foundation Research Unit)

  • Tekin, Erdal

    (American University)

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of potential fetal malnutrition on the academic proficiency of Muslim students in Denmark. We account for the endogeneity of fetal malnutrition by using the exposure to the month of Ramadan during time in utero as a natural experiment, under the assumption that some Muslim women might have fasted during Ramadan when they were pregnant. In some of our specifications, we use a sample of students from predominantly non-Muslim countries as an additional control group to address potential seasonality in cognitive outcomes in a difference-indifferences framework. Our outcome measures are the standardized test scores from the national exams on the subjects of Danish, English, Math, and Science administered by the Danish Ministry of Education. Our results indicate that fetal exposure to Ramadan has a negative impact on the achievement scores of Muslim students, especially females. Our analysis further reveals that most of these effects are concentrated on the children with low socioeconomic status (SES) background. These results indicate that fetal insults such as exposure to malnutrition may not only hamper the cognitive development of children subject to such conditions, but it may also complicate the efforts of policy-makers in improving the human capital, health, and labor market outcomes of low-SES individuals. Our findings highlight the importance of interventions designed to help economically disadvantaged women during pregnancy.

Suggested Citation

  • Greve, Jane & Schultz-Nielsen, Marie Louise & Tekin, Erdal, 2015. "Fetal Malnutrition and Academic Success: Evidence from Muslim Immigrants in Denmark," IZA Discussion Papers 9328, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9328
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    Cited by:

    1. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie & Valentina Duque, 2018. "Childhood Circumstances and Adult Outcomes: Act II," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 56(4), pages 1360-1446, December.
    2. Robert D. Osei & Monica P. Lambon-Quayefio, 2022. "Effects of Long-Term Malnutrition on Education Outcomes in Ghana: Evidence from a Panel Study," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 34(1), pages 1-21, February.
    3. Schultz-Nielsen, Marie Louise & Tekin, Erdal & Greve, Jane, 2016. "Labor market effects of intrauterine exposure to nutritional deficiency: Evidence from administrative data on Muslim immigrants in Denmark," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 196-209.
    4. Møllegaard, Stine, 2020. "The effect of birth weight on behavioral problems in early adolescence: New evidence from monozygotic twins," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 36(C).
    5. Timotej Cejka & Mazhar Waseem, 2022. "Long-Run Impacts of In-Utero Ramadan Exposure: Evidence from Administrative Tax Records," CESifo Working Paper Series 9682, CESifo.
    6. Cahit Guven & Trung Hoang & Muhammad H. Rahman & Mehmet A. Ulubaşoğlu, 2021. "Long‐term effects of malnutrition on early‐life famine survivors and their offspring: New evidence from the Great Vietnam Famine 1944–45," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(7), pages 1600-1627, July.
    7. Melike Kökkizil, 2022. "Parental Religiosity and Missing School-Girls in Turkey," BEMPS - Bozen Economics & Management Paper Series BEMPS91, Faculty of Economics and Management at the Free University of Bozen.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    intrauterine; food; malnutrition; immigrant; Muslim; education; fetal origins; fetal; Denmark;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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