The Cognitive Link Between in Utero Nutrition and Development: Micronutrient Deficiency, Schooling Attainment, and Economic Outcomes in Tanzania

Published December 2010

Because of the high returns of schooling in developing countries, policymakers pay a lot of attention to increasing school access. But if the mother is deficient in folic acid, brain development in utero can biologically constrain children’s demand for education. Using a more scientifically credible research design than has been used in previous research, we examine how reductions in micronutrient deficiency (specifically for folic acid, B6, and B12) in utero affect subsequent child schooling attainment in Tanzania. We also look at the extent to which parents allocate resources to compensate for or to reinforce inequalities in children’s cognitive endowments. To execute this strategy, we follow up on a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) with micronutrient supplements offered to HIV-negative pregnant women in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, between 2001 to 2003.

Contact Information:
Plamen Nikolov,, Harvard University and National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)