Many policymakers propose early childhood nutrition programs as a way to increase students' academic achievement. This paper investigates the nutrition-learning nexus using a unique longitudinal data set that follows a large sample of Filipino children from birth until the end of their primary education. We find that better nourished children perform significantly better in school, partly because they enter school earlier and thus have more time to learn but mostly because of greater learning productivity per year of schooling. Our cost-benefit analysis suggests that a dollar invested in an early childhood nutrition program in a developing country could potentially return at least three dollars worth of gains in academic achievement, and perhaps much more.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Financial support for this project was provided by USAID, the Asian Development Bank, and the World Bank (RPO #679-57). We wish to thank the Office of Population Studies at the University of San Carlos in Cebu, Philippines and the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina for their collaboration in the collection and analysis of the data. Azot Derecho and Nauman Ilias provided capable research assistance. We are also grateful to Harold Alderman, Andrew Foster, Michael Kremer and two anonymous referees for comments on previous drafts of this paper. The second author would like to thank the International Food Policy Research Institute for their hospitality during the writing of this paper. The findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed in this paper are entirely those of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the views of the World Bank, its Executive Directors, or the countries they represent.
- Academic achievement
- Early childhood