Linking Nutrition and Information in Malawi

Markus Goldstein provides a succinct summary of the key findings from a recent study titled ’Household Responses to Information on Child Nutrition: Experimental Evidence from Malawi’ that was published earlier this year. The study used a randomized control trial to test whether delivery of information to mothers with children under six months had an impact on the nutrition of their children as compared to mothers who did not receive the information.

The authors found:

the intervention results in large increases in household food consumption, and in particular in the consumption of protein-rich foods by children. Interestingly, the increase in household consumption is funded by significant increments in adult labour supply, particularly of fathers, constituting evidence that changes in the child health production function have implications for adult labour supply. Improved consumption also feeds through to better child health. We provide evidence to rule out that findings are driven by other factors not related to the intervention. We also find evidence of the intervention affecting positively the food intake of older children within the household who are not directly exposed to it.

Goldstein provides a summary of what can be taken away from the findings writing,

Fitzsimons and co. have clearly added to the literature that information matters for nutrition (particularly in this counseling form) and with the twist that the information can get dads out there working more.   Now, as they point out, their effects on height are only about half that you would see from an intervention where actual food was provided.   But then this raises questions of cost – and it would be nice to see what this intervention (which was driven by volunteers after all) costs relative to more intensive interventions.

Read the full paper here.