Does famine matter for aggregate adolescent human capital acquisition in sub-Saharan Africa?

To the extent that in utero and childhood malnutrition negatively affects later stage mental and physical health, it can possibly constrain later stage human capital acquisition, which is an important driver of economic growth. This paper considers the impact of famine on aggregate adolescent human capital formation in sub-Saharan Africa. The authors parameterize a joint adolescent human capital and food nutrition production function to estimate the effects of famine on years of primary school completed by individuals aged 15-19. Mixed fixed and random coefficient parameter estimates for 32 sub-Saharan African countries between 1980 and 2010 reveal that years of primary school completed by adolescents is proportional to the quantity of food and nutrition produced during childhood and in utero. This suggests that declines in food production and nutrition associated with famine in sub-Saharan Africa have large negative effects on the acquisition of human capital by adolescents and on long-run material living standards. The findings show that there is yet another consequence to famine, a long-run reduction in adolescent human capital, and this should reinforce the case for strong food security programmes in sub-Saharan Africa. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]

Title: Does famine matter for aggregate adolescent human capital acquisition in sub-Saharan Africa?
Authors: Agbor, Julius A.
Price, Gregory N.
Year: 2014
Periodical: African Development Review (ISSN 1467-8268)
Volume: 26
Issue: 3
Pages: 454-467
Language: English
Geographic term: Subsaharan Africa
External link: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8268.12104
Abstract: To the extent that in utero and childhood malnutrition negatively affects later stage mental and physical health, it can possibly constrain later stage human capital acquisition, which is an important driver of economic growth. This paper considers the impact of famine on aggregate adolescent human capital formation in sub-Saharan Africa. The authors parameterize a joint adolescent human capital and food nutrition production function to estimate the effects of famine on years of primary school completed by individuals aged 15-19. Mixed fixed and random coefficient parameter estimates for 32 sub-Saharan African countries between 1980 and 2010 reveal that years of primary school completed by adolescents is proportional to the quantity of food and nutrition produced during childhood and in utero. This suggests that declines in food production and nutrition associated with famine in sub-Saharan Africa have large negative effects on the acquisition of human capital by adolescents and on long-run material living standards. The findings show that there is yet another consequence to famine, a long-run reduction in adolescent human capital, and this should reinforce the case for strong food security programmes in sub-Saharan Africa. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]