Fasting during pregnancy and children’s academic performance

We consider the effects of daytime fasting by pregnant women during the lunar month of Ramadan on their children’s test scores at age seven. Using English register data, we find that scores are .05 to .08 standard deviations lower for Pakistani and Bangladeshistudents exposed to Ramadan in early pregnancy. These estimates are downward biased to the extent that Ramadan is not universally observed. We conclude that the effects of prenatal investments on test scores are comparable to conventional educational inter-ventions but are likely to be more cost effective and less subject to “fade out”.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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