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
Date Written: January 27, 2015
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
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