Boettner Center for Pensions and Retirement Research
Working Paper

The Impact of Nutrition during Early Childhood on Education among Guatemalan Adults

John A. Maluccio, John F. Hoddinott, Jere R. Behrman, Reynaldo Martorell, Agnes R. Quisumbing & Aryeh D. Stein
BWP2006-03

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Abstract — Early childhood nutrition is thought to have important effects on education, broadly defined to include various forms of learning. We advance beyond previous literature on the effect of early childhood nutrition on education in developing countries by using unique longitudinal data begun during a nutritional experiment during early childhood with educational outcomes measured in adulthood. Estimating an intent-to-treat model capturing the effect of exposure to the intervention from birth to 36 months, our results indicate significantly positive, and fairly substantial, effects of the randomized nutrition intervention a quarter century after it ended: increased grade attainment by women (1.2 grades) via increased likelihood of completing primary school and some secondary school; speedier grade progression by women; a one-quarter SD increase in a test of reading comprehension with positive effects found for both women and men; and a one-quarter SD increase on nonverbal cognitive tests scores. There is little evidence of heterogeneous impacts with the exception being that exposure to the intervention had a larger effect on grade attainment and reading comprehension scores for females in wealthier households. The findings are robust to an array of alternative estimators of the standard errors and controls for sample attrition.