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Fasting During Pregnancy and Children's Academic Performance

  • Douglas Almond
  • Bhashkar Mazumder
  • Reyn van Ewijk

We consider the effects of daytime fasting by pregnant women during the lunar month of Ramadan on their children's test scores at age seven. Using English register data, we find that scores are .05 to .08 standard deviations lower for Pakistani and Bangladeshi students exposed to Ramadan in early pregnancy. These estimates are downward biased to the extent that Ramadan is not universally observed. We conclude that the effects of prenatal investments on test scores are comparable to many conventional educational interventions but are likely to be more cost effective and less subject to "fade out".

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17713.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17713.

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Date of creation: Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17713
Note: AG CH ED HE
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  1. 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 140-69, October.
  2. Chetty, Raj & Friedman, John Norton & Hilger, Nathanial & Saez, Emmanuel & Schanzenbach, Dianne Whitmore & Yagan, Danny, 2011. "How Does Your Kindergarten Classroom Affect Your Earnings? Evidence from Project Star," Scholarly Articles 9639983, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  3. James J. Heckman & Rodrigo Pinto & Peter A. Savelyev, 2012. "Understanding the Mechanisms through Which an Influential Early Childhood Program Boosted Adult Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 18581, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Doyle, Orla & Harmon, Colm P. & Heckman, James J. & Tremblay, Richard E., 2009. "Investing in early human development: Timing and economic efficiency," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 1-6, March.
  5. Jesse Rothstein, 2008. "Teacher Quality in Educational Production: Tracking, Decay, and Student Achievement," NBER Working Papers 14442, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Douglas Almond & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2011. "Health Capital and the Prenatal Environment: The Effect of Ramadan Observance during Pregnancy," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 56-85, October.
  7. Heckman, James J. & Masterov, Dimitriy V., 2007. "The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children," IZA Discussion Papers 2725, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Reyn van Ewijk, 2009. "Long-term health effects on the next generation of Ramadan fasting during pregnancy," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 28597, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  9. Anna Aizer & Laura Stroud & Stephen Buka, 2012. "Maternal Stress and Child Outcomes: Evidence from Siblings," NBER Working Papers 18422, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Thomas J. Kane & Douglas O. Staiger, 2002. "The Promise and Pitfalls of Using Imprecise School Accountability Measures," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(4), pages 91-114, Fall.
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