This study provides evidence about how cognitive and non-cognitive skills are acquired during childhood in 4 developing countries (Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam), highlighting the role of early nutrition as a determinant in this process. An increase of one standard deviation in height-for-age at the age of 1 is found to have a total effect on cognitive skills at age 8 by 5.4 percent in Ethiopia, 9.0 percent in India, 7.6 percent in Peru and 8.4 percent in Vietnam. The corresponding total effect on non-cognitive skills is 1.1 percent in Ethiopia, 3.4 percent in India, 2.6 percent in Peru and 1.7 percent in Vietnam. The evidence suggests the effect of early nutrition on non-cognitive skills is indirect, mediated by cognitive skills. The effect is also relatively small in magnitude.
This study is part of Young Lives, an international study of childhood poverty, following the lives of 12,000 children in 4 countries (Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam) over 15 years. Young Lives is funded by the UK Department for International Development
Sánchez, Alan (2017), The structural relationship between early nutrition, cognitive skills and non-cognitive skills in four developing countries. Economics & Human Biology Volume 27, Part A, November 2017, Pages 33–54
The structural relationship between early nutrition, cognitive skills and non-cognitive skills in four developing countries