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Nutrition, information and household behavior: Experimental evidence from Malawi

Fitzsimons, E., Malde, B., Mesnard, A. and Vera-Hernández, M. (2016). Nutrition, information and household behavior: Experimental evidence from Malawi. Journal of Development Economics, 122, pp. 113-126. doi: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2016.05.002

Abstract

Incorrect knowledge of the health production function may lead to inefficient household choices and thereby to the production of suboptimal levels of health. This paper studies the effects of a randomized intervention in rural Malawi that, over a six-month period, provided mothers of young infants with information on child nutrition without supplying any monetary or in-kind resources. A simple model first investigates theoretically how nutrition and other household choices including labor supply may change in response to the improved nutrition knowledge observed in the intervention areas. We then show empirically that the intervention improved child nutrition, household food consumption and consequently health. We find evidence that labor supply increased, which might have contributed to partially fund the increase in food consumption. This paper is the first to study whether non-health choices, particularly parental labor supply, might be affected by parents' knowledge of the child health production function.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Infant health; Health information; Labor supply; Cluster randomized control trial
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Economics
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/15465
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