Working Paper 45. The Effect of Early Age Stunting on Cognitive Achievement among Children in Vietnam.


In this paper, we use a longitudinal data set that follows three thousand children in Vietnam to study the economic significance of childhood poverty–cognitive achievement nexus.Focusing on the consequences of stunting, we look at height-for-age z-score (HAZ), and trace the impact of HAZ on child cognitive achievement independent of the source of HAZ's variation - whether it comes from the variation in child characteristics at birth and the environmental factors, or in the household characteristics (stature, socioeconomic status, etc.). An increase by a standard deviation of HAZ at the age of one expectedly leads to an increase by one fourth of a standard deviation of the log score in a widely-used test of language ability at the age of five. For a quantitative cognitive achievement test, the corresponding figure is 0.20. Our evidence suggests that some of the disadvantages in socioeconomic status are being transmitted across generations.

A separate 1-page Research Summary, which presents the main findings and policy implications of the Working Paper in easily understood language, is also attached.


Young Lives, Department of International Development at the University of Oxford, UK. ISBN: 978-1-904427-50-6, 28 pp. + research summary

Published 1 January 2009