P16: Child health and development

PIs: Vollmer (leading), Klasen, Puhani

The global trend of death among infants and children shows a soothing decline in the past decades. However, unveiling the national contributions to this trend shows that in many developing countries infant and child mortality rates and child health deprivations are still severe. However, key intervention during a critical period between pregnancy and before the age of two can substantially reduce child health deficiencies.

The economic rationale behind investments in the very early years of a child?s life lies in the rapidly decreasing returns to investment in human capital over lifetime. Investment in child health at very young ages is effective in improving health, well-being and economic opportunities in adulthood as well as aggregate economic measures. Using secondary data for effective policy analysis is difficult as its quality is often insufficient for a thorough analysis over time and because the analysis is potentially plagued with endogeneity and reverse causality problems. There exists a strong negative correlation between poverty and health working both directions. In this project, we intend to measure the causal effect of maternal and child health interventions by employing randomized controlled trials (RCT).

Potential dissertation topics in the second phase are:

  • Traditional versus modern health treatments: Choices, combinations, incentives
  • Cognitive child development: Medium-term effects of a cognitive development early childhood intervention
  • Prenatal health: Effects of pre-natal nutrition treatments on mother and child health