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The China Great Leap Forward Famine: The Lasting Impact of Mothers’ Fetal Malnutrition on Their Offspring

Belton Fleisher () and Seonghoon Kim ()

No 09-04, Working Papers from Ohio State University, Department of Economics

Abstract: Mothers born around the China Great Leap Forward Famine (famine-born mothers) are likely to have worse adult outcomes due to a negative relationship between fetal malnutrition and their health and cognitive ability. Using data from the China Health and Nutrition Survey, I investigate whether famine-born mothers transmit less human capital to their offspring through various channels, including less cognitive ability and other innate traits and by the choice of less investment in children’s human capital. My study also focuses on possible gender differences in these effects. I find that in-utero famine experience of famine-born mothers is negatively related to the education and labor outcomes of their offspring. However, female children are less affected by mothers’ famine experience than are men. This outcome suggests that Trivers-Willard (1973) effects dominate parental-choice effects despite the well-known son-preference of China.

Keywords: Gender difference; Malnutrition; Health; Labor Market Outcomes; Schooling; Barker hypothesis; Trivers-Willard hypothesis; China Famine (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I12 J16 P36 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 19 pages
Date: 2010-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dev, nep-neu and nep-tra
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:osu:osuewp:09-04

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