Farewell to the God of Plague: Estimating the Effects of China’s Universal Salt Iodization on Educational Outcomes
43 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2018 Last revised: 29 Aug 2019
Date Written: May 21, 2018
This paper estimates the effects of China’s Universal Salt Iodization (USI) policy in 1994 – the largest nutrition intervention policy in human history – on children’s later-life educational outcomes. Using population census data combined with county-level information, we apply a difference-in-differences strategy to compare the educational outcomes of cohorts born before and after USI across counties with different iodine deficiency disorder levels. Our results show that USI increased primary school enrollment by 0.6 percentage points. Further investigation suggests that girls and children born in rural areas benefit more from USI. The costs of USI almost evenly fell on China’s iodine salt consumers through an in-price tax.
Keywords: Universal Salt Iodization, Iodine Deficiency Disorders, Fetal Origins Hypothesis, Educational Outcome
JEL Classification: I12, I14, I18, I38, N35
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