The structural relationship between early nutrition, cognitive skills and non-cognitive skills in four developing countries

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This study provides evidence about how cognitive and non-cognitive skills are acquired during childhood in four 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.

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