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The Persistent Effects of in Utero Nutrition Shocks Over the Life Cycle: Evidence From Fasting During Ramadan in Indonesia

  • 2012
  • Dissertation
Majid, Muhammad Farfan

City: Riverside, CA

Publisher/Institution: University of California, Riverside

Abstract: Every year Muslims worldwide fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan. In 2010 alone, more than 1.2 billion Muslims globally, and 155 million Muslims in Indonesia, were potentially exposed to their mother’s fasting. This paper uses longitudinal data (the Indonesian Family Life Survey, IFLS) to study the effects of in utero exposure to Ramadan on multiple outcomes, including adult labor supply, over the life cycle. The empirical analysis finds that: i) exposed adults aged 15-65 work 4.5% fewer hours and are 3.2% more likely to be self-employed; ii) exposed children aged 7-15 score 5.9% lower on Raven’s Colored Progressive Matrices assessment and 7.8% lower on math test scores, have increased probability of engaging in child labor, and study fewer hours during elementary school; and iii) exposed children younger than 5 have lower birth weights, which may partially account for the former two effects. Estimates are robust to the inclusion of biological sibling fixed effects. Moreover, by exploiting novel religiosity data from the latest wave of the IFLS, these results are found to be the strongest in religious Muslim families, while insignificant for non-Muslims.

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