The Causal Effect of Early Childhood Health on Cognition in Older Children in Bangladesh

Tania Barham, University of Colorado at Boulder

The health of young children is of importance not only for the immediate improvement in their well-being but also because of the longer-term impacts on children’s physical and cognitive development. It is believed that improvements in cognition may lead to improved labor market opportunities. Opportunities to examine the long-term consequences of early childhood health interventions in developing countries are rare due to a lack of longitudinal data on individuals who participated in a program designed for rigorous evaluation. This study takes advantage of the quasi-random placement of a family planning and early children’s health program in Bangladesh in the 1970s and 1980s to evaluate the effect on the interventions on cognitive development when the children reached adolescents. The paper compares single difference, propensity score weighting and mother fixed effects models and finds that the interventions lead to a 7-15% increase in cognition development as measured by the Mini Mental State Exam.

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Presented in Session 4: Population, Health and Economic Development