Growing and Learning When Consumption is Seasonal: Long-Term Evidence from Tanzania
51 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2017 Last revised: 17 Feb 2017
Date Written: February 9, 2017
In this paper we show that the seasonality of food consumption during childhood, conditional on average food consumption, impacts long-run human capital development. Using high frequency panel data from early 1990s Tanzania, we estimate a consumption model that distinguishes between differences in average consumption levels, seasonal fluctuations, and idiosyncratic shocks. We then test whether the average level and the seasonality of a child's consumption profile in the early 1990s affect height and educational attainment in a 2010 follow-up survey. Results show that the negative effects of greater seasonality are 30-60% of the magnitudes of the positive effects of greater average consumption (in the same units). Put differently, children expected to have identical human capital based on annualized consumption measures will have substantially different outcomes if one child's consumption is more seasonal than the other's. We discuss implications for measurement and policy.
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