Early Childhood Nutrition, Parental Growth Perceptions and Educational Aspirations in Rural Burkina Faso
31 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2019
Date Written: March 6, 2019
Early childhood nutrition can have long-term impacts on human capital outcomes. Besides direct biological effects, parents' perceptions of exogenous nutrition shocks’ impacts and their adjustments in subsequent investments, can amplify these direct effects on long-run outcomes. Understanding and anticipating parental perceptions and responses can improve the design of policies aimed at improving child nutrition. Using a randomized trial providing nutrition supplementation to children from 9 to 18 months old in Burkina Faso, we investigate how parental growth perceptions and educational aspirations respond to this positive shock when these children grow to 3-5 years old. We find that the intervention significantly increases parents rating their child's physical and cognitive development as "Very good". We find no significant impact on educational aspirations on average, but the intervention increases the probability that parents report that they would allow a girl to pursue post-secondary education by 13.4 percentage points (22.2 percent); if the household belongs to the poorest quantile in the sample, then this probability increases by 16.3 percentage points (37.2 percent). These heterogeneous effects suggest that early childhood nutrition interventions may stimulate complementary investments in human capital by parents that could amplify the direct effects and further enable disadvantaged children to catch up.
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