Sins of the Fathers: The Intergenerational Legacy of the 1959-61 Great Chinese Famine on Children's Cognitive Development

57 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2014 Last revised: 30 Jan 2015

See all articles by Chih Ming Tan

Chih Ming Tan

University of North Dakota - College of Business & Public Administration - Department of Economics

Tan Zhibo

Fudan University - School of Economics; Peking University

Xiaobo Zhang

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Date Written: January 27, 2015

Abstract

The effect of early exposure to malnutrition on the next generation’s cognitive abilities has rarely been studied in human beings in large part due to lack of data. A natural experiment, the Great Chinese Famine, and a novel dataset are employed to study this effect. The paper finds that the cognitive abilities of children born to rural famine fathers were affected and that the impact is more pronounced in girls than in boys, whereas children born to female survivors are not affected. The uncovered gender-specific effect is almost entirely attributable to son preference exhibited in families with male famine survivors.

Keywords: Famine, Health, China, Intergenerational Transmission, Epigenetics

JEL Classification: O12, I12, I15, J10, J13

Suggested Citation

Tan, Chih Ming and Zhibo, Tan and Zhang, Xiaobo, Sins of the Fathers: The Intergenerational Legacy of the 1959-61 Great Chinese Famine on Children's Cognitive Development (January 27, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2409452 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2409452

Chih Ming Tan (Contact Author)

University of North Dakota - College of Business & Public Administration - Department of Economics ( email )

293 Centennial Drive Stop 8369
Grand Forks, ND 58202-8369
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/chihmingtan/home

Tan Zhibo

Fudan University - School of Economics ( email )

600 GuoQuan Road
Shanghai, 200433
China

Peking University ( email )

No. 38 Xueyuan Road
Haidian District
Beijing, Beijing 100871
China

Xiaobo Zhang

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

2033 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
United States
202-862-5677 (Phone)
202-467-4439 (Fax)

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