Inequalities in Adolescent Learning: Does the Timing and Persistence of Food Insecurity at Home Matter?

45 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2018

Date Written: April 3, 2018


We investigated inequalities in learning achievements at 12 years by household food insecurity trajectories at ages 5, 8 and 12 years in a longitudinal sample of 1,911 Indian children. Estimates included extensive child and household controls, and lagged cognitive scores to address unobserved individual heterogeneity in ability and early investments. Overall, household food insecurity at any age predicted lower vocabulary, reading, maths and English scores in early adolescence. Adolescents from households that transitioned out from food insecurity at age 5 to later food security, and adolescents from chronically food insecure households had the lowest scores across all outcomes. There was heterogeneity in the relationship between temporal occurrence of food insecurity and cognitive skills, based on developmental and curriculum-specific timing of skill formation. Results were robust to additional explanations of the “household food insecurity gap”, i.e. education and health investments, parental and child education aspirations, and child psychosocial skills.

Keywords: Cognitive skills, Learning, Adolescent, Food insecurity, India, Education inequality, Human capital, Longitudinal, Education, Lifecourse

JEL Classification: I24, I29, I39, H52

Suggested Citation

Aurino, Elisabetta and Fledderjohann, Jasmine and Vellakkal, Sukumar, Inequalities in Adolescent Learning: Does the Timing and Persistence of Food Insecurity at Home Matter? (April 3, 2018). University Ca' Foscari of Venice, Dept. of Economics Research Paper Series No. 09/WP/2018, Available at SSRN: or

Elisabetta Aurino (Contact Author)

Imperial College London

South Kensington Campus
Exhibition Road
London, Greater London SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom

Jasmine Fledderjohann

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Sukumar Vellakkal

IIT Kanpur ( email )

Kanpur, Kanpur 110070

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