Fasting During Pregnancy and Children’s Academic Performance
Posted: 7 Dec 2011
Date Written: July 26, 2011
Conventionally studied educational interventions tend to be costly and may be subject to “fade out”. In contrast, experiences during the prenatal period can have large and persistent effects on academic performance, even when quite brief. In this paper, we consider a relatively mild and commonly-experienced prenatal exposure – that occasioned by daytime fasting during the lunar month of Ramadan. In register data from England, we find that test scores at age seven are approximately .05 to .08 standard deviations lower for Pakistani and Bangladeshi students exposed to Ramadan in early pregnancy. We argue these “intent to treat” estimates are downward biased relative to fasting’s effect due to imperfect compliance. We conclude that prenatal investments can influence test scores and that the magnitude of the effect is comparable to conventional educational interventions.
Keywords: Ramadan, fasting, Key Stage 1, prenatal, fetal development
JEL Classification: I2, I1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation