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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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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
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  1. James J. Heckman & Dimitriy V. Masterov, 2007. "The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children," NBER Working Papers 13016, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Elaine Kelly, 2009. "The scourge of Asian Flu: in utero exposure to pandemic influenza and the development of a cohort of British children," IFS Working Papers W09/17, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  3. James J. Heckman & Rodrigo Pinto & Peter A. Savelyev, 2012. "Understanding the Mechanisms through Which an Influential Early Childhood Program Boosted Adult Outcomes," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 12-00011, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  4. 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.
  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. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Nathaniel Hilger & Emmanuel Saez & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach & Danny Yagan, 2011. "How Does Your Kindergarten Classroom Affect Your Earnings? Evidence from Project Star," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1593-1660.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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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