The long-term cognitive consequences of early childhood malnutrition: the case of famine in Ghana

J Health Econ. 2013 Dec;32(6):1013-27. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2013.08.001. Epub 2013 Aug 28.


We examine the role of early childhood health in human capital accumulation. Using a unique data set from Ghana with comprehensive information on individual, family, community, school quality characteristics and a direct measure of intelligence together with test scores, we examine the long-term cognitive effects of the 1983 famine on survivors. We show that differences in intelligence test scores can be robustly explained by the differential impact of the famine in different parts of the country and the impacts are most severe for children under two years of age during the famine. We also account for model uncertainty by using Bayesian Model Averaging.

Keywords: Bayesian model averaging; C11; C26; C52; Cognitive development; Early childhood malnutrition; Famine; Ghana; I15; I25; O12; O15; O55.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Ghana / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Male
  • Starvation / psychology*
  • Young Adult