Iron deficiency and its impact on academic achievement
Purpose – It is widely accepted that good health and education are important components of human capability. Although China has made encouraging progress in education and health causes, the role of poor health as an intervening factor in education has not been fully recognized. Iron deficiency is the major micronutrient deficiency encountered by children and adolescents. Many medical and social studies have found a negative correlation between iron deficiency and children physical growth and cognitive development. However, few of the existing literatures work to the conclusion of a causal relationship considering the endogenity problem in the estimation of a human capital model. The purpose of this paper is to study the iron status of elementary school children living in the poor countryside of western China and its educational consequence with the application of instrumental variable (IV) estimation. Design/methodology/approach – An analytical framework of academic achievement production is adopted in the paper to empirically identify the relationship between iron deficiency and academic achievement to estimate the impact. Findings – Using a sample of 45,549 school children from Gansu, the paper finds that around 86 per cent of the sample children are iron deficient and 40 per cent of the sample children are suffering from iron deficiency anaemia. The use of IV is innovative in identifying the endogenous health variable, namely iron deficiency. Originality/value – This paper enriches existing studies on children health and education. IV estimation indicates that iron deficiency has a significant adverse impact on school children academic achievement. The paper suggests health intervention, such as iron intake fortification, as a possible measure for education cause. JEL Classification: R11, I19, I29
Children (age groups), China, Education, Public health
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