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Nutrition, information and household behavior: Experimental evidence from Malawi

  • September 2016
  • Journal Article
Fitzsimons, Emla, Malde, Bansi, Mesnard, Alice & Vera-Hernandez, Marcos

Publication Title: Journal of Development Economics

Pages: 113-126

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.

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