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The Persistent Effects of In-Utero Nutrition Shocks Over the Life Cycle: Evidence From Ramadan Fasting

  • November 2015
  • Journal Article
Majid, Muhammad Farhan

Publication Title: Journal of Development Economics

Pages: 48-57

Abstract: More than a billion Muslims living today were potentially exposed to their mother’s fasting in utero. This paper uses the Indonesian Family Life Survey to study the persistent effects of in utero exposure to Ramadan over the life cycle. The exposed children perform more child labor, score 7.4% lower on cognitive tests and 8.4% lower on math test scores. As adults, the exposed children work 4.7% fewer hours per week and are more likely to be self-employed. Estimates are robust to the inclusion of family fixed effects, particularly for hours worked and test scores. Moreover, results are strongest for religious Muslim families, while insignificant for non-Muslims. Back of the envelope calculations revealed an implied fasting rate of 68%-82% among pregnant Muslim women.

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