Grand Challenges Canada Economic Returns To Mitigating Early Life Risks Project Working Paper Series

Team1000+ is a consortium that combines the expertise and complementarities of groups of research scholars from the University of Pennsylvania (Penn)-USA (PI Jere R. Behrman), University of Essex-UK (PI Sonia Bhalotra) and CDDEP-India (PI Ramanan Laxminarayan) into an international interdisciplinary consortium of leading scholars with considerable expertise on many facets of both determinants and impacts of early childhood development (ECD). The lead institution for Team1000+ Project is Penn, with the project being coordinated by the Penn Population Studies Center (PSC) and with Behrman as PI, in partnership with the two consortium members (Essex, CDDEP). Team1000+ includes over 50 investigators with advanced training in economics and 11 other relevant disciplines; current appointments in 17 countries, including 13 low- and middle-income countries; and current or recent appointments in a number of international governmental organizations, international NGOs, governments and universities. Team1000+ is developing an economic framework to address four critical poverty-related risk factors during the First 1000 Days of life highlighted by the GCC -- malnutrition, infection, poor management of pregnancy and birth complications, and a lack of cognitive stimulation and nurturing – and analyze the economic impacts and the resource costs of selected related interventions over the life cycle. Team1000+ is undertaking an innovative strategy with a number of components to move considerably beyond the existing literature to develop significantly improved understanding. The project purpose is to contribute significantly to understanding the economic impact of ameliorating key risk factors in the First 1000 Days in developing countries through synthesizing available knowledge and contributing new innovative studies. The potential impact in terms of knowledge on this important topic is great, both directly on policy makers and indirectly through the influence of the nongovernmental and academic communities on policy. Papers in this working paper series are products written by members of Team1000+.

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 19
  • Publication
    Gender targeting of unconditional income transfers and child nutritional status: Experimental evidence from the Bolivian Amazon
    (2014-02-14) Undurraga, Eduardo; Zycherman, Ariela; Yiu, Julie; Behrman, Jere R; Leonard, William R.; Godoy, Ricardo A.
    Observational studies suggest that women’s income benefits children’s health and nutritional status, as well as education, more than men’s income, apparently because women are more likely to shift marginal resources to their children. These studies have influenced policies such as conditional cash transfers, which typically target women. However, previous studies have been unable to control for unobserved heterogeneity in child endowments and parental preferences. We report the results of a trial that allocated randomly one-time in-kind income in the form of edible rice (the main staple and cash crop in the study area) or rice seeds to the female or male household head (edible rice transfers, range: 30-395 kg/household; rice seeds: 5.9 kg/household). The trial took place in a society of native Amazonian forager-farmers in Bolivia (2008-2009). Outcomes included four anthropometric indicators of short-run nutritional status of 848 children from 40 villages. We found that the transfers produced no discernible impact on short-run (~5 months) nutritional status of children, or any differential effects between girls and boys by the gender of the household head who received the transfers. These null results probably relate to specific social norms of the Tsimane’, such as pooling of food resources, shared preferences, and relatively equal bargaining power between Tsimane’ women and men. The results highlight the probable importance of culture in household resource allocation and suggest that gender targeting in cash transfer programs might not increase investments in children in societies where women and men have more egalitarian household relationships
  • Publication
    What Determines Adult Cognitive Skills? Influences of Pre-Schooling, Schooling, and Post-Schooling Experiences in Guatemala
    (2013-06-19) Behrman, Jere R.; Hoddinott, John F.; Maluccio, John A.; Soler-Hampejsek, Erica; Behrman, Emily L.; Martorell, Reynaldo; Ramirez-Zea, Manuel; Stein, Aryeh D.
    Most empirical investigations of the effects of cognitive skills assume that they are produced by schooling, and that schooling is exogenous. Drawing on a rich longitudinal data set to estimate production functions for adult reading-comprehension cognitive skills and adult nonverbal cognitive skills, we find that (1) Schooling attainment has a significant and substantial effect on adult reading-comprehension cognitive skills but not on adult nonverbal cognitive skills; and (2) Pre-schooling and post-schooling experiences have substantial positive significant effects on adult cognitive skills. Pre-schooling experiences that increase height for age at age six years substantially and significantly increase adult reading-comprehension and nonverbal cognitive skills, even after controlling for schooling attainment and post-school skilled job tenure. Post-schooling tenure in skilled jobs also has a significant positive effect on adult reading-comprehension and nonverbal cognitive skills, although the latter estimate is sensitive to how we treat gender. Age also has significant positive effect but with diminishing returns on adult reading-comprehension cognitive skills. The findings (1) reinforce the importance of early life investments; (2) support the importance of childhood nutrition (“Flynn effect”) and work complexity in explaining increases in cognitive skills; (3) question interpretations of studies reporting productivity impacts of cognitive skills without controlling for endogeneity; and (4) point to limitations in using adult schooling alone to represent human capital.
  • Publication
    Height and Calories in Early Childhood
    (2014-07-23) Griffen, Andrew S.
    This paper estimates a height production function using data from a randomized nutrition intervention conducted in rural Guatemala from 1969 - 1977. Using the experimental intervention as an instrument, the IV estimates of the effect of calories on height are an order of magnitude larger than the OLS estimates. Information from a unique measurement error process in the calorie data, counterfactuals results from the estimated model and external evidence from migration studies suggest that the divergence between the OLS and IV estimates is driven by the LATE interpretation of IV. Attenuation bias corrected OLS estimates of the height production function imply that calories gaps in early childhood can explain at most 16% of the height gap between Guatemalan children and the US born children of Guatemalan immigrants.
  • Publication
    The Impact of Female Education on Fertility: Evidence from Turkey
    (2013-07-29) Güneş, Pınar Mine
    This paper explores the causal relationship between female education and fertility by exploiting a change in the compulsory schooling law (CSL) in Turkey. Using exposure to the CSL across cohorts as an instrumental variable, the results indicate that an extra year of female schooling reduces teenage fertility by 0.03 births, which is a reduction of 33%. Exploring heterogeneous effects indicates that female education reduces teenage fertility more in provinces with higher initial fertility and lower population density. Finally, the CSL postpones childbearing by delaying marriage thereby reducing fertility.
  • Publication
    The Persistent Effects of in Utero Nutrition Shocks Over the Life Cycle: Evidence From Ramadan Fasting
    (2013-08-07) Majid, Muhammad Farhan
    This paper uses longitudinal data (the Indonesian Family Life Survey) to study the persistent effects of in utero exposure to Ramadan over the life cycle. The exposed children have lower birth weights, study fewer hours during elementary school, do more child labor, score 7.8 percent lower on cognitive tests and 5.9 percent lower on math test scores. As adults, the exposed children work 4.5 percent fewer hours and are more likely to be self-employed. Estimates are robust to the inclusion of biological sibling fixed effects. Moreover, results are strongest for religious Muslim families, while insignificant for non-Muslims.
  • Publication
    Intergenerational Effects of Maternal Exposure to Drought in Utero on Newborn Size: Evidence from a Retrospective Cohort Study in Malawi
    (2018-04-16) Hanjahanja-Phiri, Thokozani
    Aims: First, the study first assessed the impact of maternal exposure to drought in utero on newborn size. Second, the study assessed the effect of prenatal supplementation in offsetting the negative intergenerational effects of maternal exposure to drought in utero on newborn size. Methods: The present study took advantage of a natural experiment from three droughts (1981/82, 1987/88, and 1992/93) of varying severity in rural Malawi to derive maternal exposure to drought in utero based on maternal date of birth. Other data for outcomes and control variables were sourced from the iLiNS-DYAD-M randomized clinical trial. Results: Among infants of mothers exposed to drought in the first trimester, non-significant effects on infant length-for-age Z score (LAZ) were observed for prenatal supplementation with small-quantity, lipid-based nutrient supplements (SQ-LNS) on infant LAZ compared to the iron-folic acid (IFA), controlling for the study covariates. However, prenatal supplementation with multiple micronutrients (MMN) compared to IFA produced significant effects on infant LAZ [-0.853 SD, 95% CI (-1.446: -0.259)]. Conclusions: These findings suggest that prenatal supplementation with SQ-LNS vs IFA or significantly with MMN vs IFA may sometimes not be beneficial for birth outcomes due to intergenerational external shocks in resource-poor, drought-prone settings.
  • Publication
    Review of Maternal Effects on Early Childhood Stunting
    (2014-08-02) Phiri, Thokozani
  • Publication
    The Effect of Increased Primary Schooling on Adult Women's HIV Status in Malawi and Uganda: Universal Primary Education as a Natural Experiment
    (2014-04-07) Behrman, Julia Andrea
    This paper explores the causal relationship between primary schooling and adult HIV status in two East African countries with some of the highest HIV infection rates in the world. Using data from the most recent Demographic Health Surveys in Malawi (2010) and Uganda (2011), the paper takes advantage of a natural experiment, the implementation of Universal Primary Education policies in the mid 1990s. An instrumented fuzzy regression discontinuity approach is used to model the relationship between increased primary schooling and adult HIV status. The results indicate that in Malawi a one year increase in schooling for a girl leads to a 6-7 percent reduction in probability of testing positive for HIV as an adult and in Uganda a one year increase in schooling leads to a 2-4 percent reduction in probability of testing positive for HIV as an adult. These results are robust to a variety of model specifications. In a series of supplementary analyses a number of potential pathways through which such effects may occur are explored. Findings indicate increased exposure to primary school affects overall schooling attainment and effects adolescent sexual behavior to some extent. However primary schooling has no effect on recent (adult) sexual behavior.
  • Publication
    Impact of the NREGS on Schooling and Intellectual Human Capital
    (2014-01-10) Behrman, Jere R; Galab, Shaikh; Mani, Subha; Reddy, Prudhvikar
    This paper uses a quasi-experimental framework to analyze the impact of India’s largest public works program, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), on schooling enrollment, grade progression, reading comprehension test scores, writing test scores, math test scores and Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) scores. The availability of pre and two rounds of post-intervention initiation data from the three rounds of the Young Lives Panel Study allow us to measure both the short- and medium-run intent-to-treat effects of the program. We find that the program has no effect on enrollment but has strong positive effects on grade progression, reading comprehension test scores, math test scores and PPVT scores. The average effect size computed over several outcomes is similar to the effects of conditional cash transfer programs implemented in Latin America. These short-run impact estimates all increased in the medium run, that is, there is no decaying of impact but instead medium-run augmentation of the estimated short-run effects. The findings reported here are robust to attrition bias, endogenous program placement, type I errors and type II errors.
  • Publication
    Does Mother’s Schooling Matter Most in Rural Bangladesh? Re-contextualizing an Old Debate in a New Era of School Reform
    (2014-04-07) Behrman, Julia Andrea
    This paper explores the dynamic interplay between parental wealth, parental schooling, government schooling initiatives and child schooling outcomes in rural Bangladesh. In doing so, I engage with the vast literature that suggests mother’s schooling is the most important predictor of offspring schooling attainment and empirically investigate whether this continues to be the case in the context of recent waves of school reform. Methodologically, I improve upon past estimates by using a gender-disaggregated measure of wealth that is exogenous to decision-making in marriage: men’s and women’s assets at marriage. I run a series of Cox semi-proportional hazard models estimating factors that predict rates of school entry and duration between entry and exit, as well as OLS regression estimates of grade progression between entry and exit. Findings indicate that mother’s schooling, and to some extent father’s schooling, are important predictors of offspring attainment even after controlling for government schooling initiatives and improved measures of wealth. Substantively, I argue for a re-contextualization of the literature on household decision-making to better understand the nuanced interplay between household factors and external programs and incentives in the context of mass schooling reform in Bangladesh and around the globe.