A bit of salt, a trace of life: Gender norms and the impact of a salt iodization program on human capital formation of school aged children

Zichen Deng*, Maarten Lindeboom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

This paper evaluates the effect of a national salt iodization program on the cognition of school-aged children in China. We focus on the role of gender preferences. Linking pre-eradication iodine deficiency rates with household survey data, we find a strong positive impact of prenatal exposure to the program on cognition and schooling for girls. For boys, we find no effect. Child preferences play an important role in parental investment decisions and impact program effects. We find that parents invest more in girls with a high initial endowment. For boys, this is different. Parents invest in boys, irrespective of their initial endowment. The nationally implemented program may therefore primarily benefit low endowment girls. We then exploit village-level variation in gender attitudes and find that gender attitudes are related to parental investment behavior and that the program's impact is stronger for girls born to parents with strong preferences for boys.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102614
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Health Economics
Volume83
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The main title is borrowed from Endeavors. Thanks to Douglas Almond, Prashant Bharadwaj, Arnaud Chevalier, Hans Gr?nqvist, David Johnston, Johannes Kunz, Travis Lybbert, Peter Nilsson, Giacomo Pignataro, Hitoshi Shigeoka, and Gerard van den Berg, for helpful conversations and seminar/workshop audiences at RES Symposium, Essen, Toulouse, NEUDC-18, Kyoto, Milan, Tilburg, Hamburg, Uppsala, Oslo, and Bocconi for useful comments. We also thank two anonymous referees and editor Manisha Shah for valuable comments and suggestions. This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant Agreement No. 733206 LifeCycle). All remaining errors are our own.

Funding Information:
The main title is borrowed from Endeavors . Thanks to Douglas Almond, Prashant Bharadwaj, Arnaud Chevalier, Hans Grönqvist, David Johnston, Johannes Kunz, Travis Lybbert, Peter Nilsson, Giacomo Pignataro, Hitoshi Shigeoka, and Gerard van den Berg, for helpful conversations and seminar/workshop audiences at RES Symposium, Essen, Toulouse, NEUDC-18, Kyoto, Milan, Tilburg, Hamburg, Uppsala, Oslo, and Bocconi for useful comments. We also thank two anonymous referees and editor Manisha Shah for valuable comments and suggestions. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant Agreement No. 733206 LifeCycle). All remaining errors are our own.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s)

Keywords

  • Cognitive skills
  • Gender attitudes
  • Iodine
  • Parental investments

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