NBER Working Papers by Bhashkar Mazumder

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Working Papers

December 2011Fasting During Pregnancy and Children's Academic Performance
with Douglas Almond, Reyn van Ewijk: w17713
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 Bangladeshi students 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 many conventional educational interventions but are likely to be more cost effective and less subject to "fade out".
June 2009Birth Cohort and the Black-White Achievement Gap: The Roles of Access and Health Soon After Birth
with Kenneth Y. Chay, Jonathan Guryan: w15078
One literature documents a significant, black-white gap in average test scores, while another finds a substantial narrowing of the gap during the 1980's, and stagnation in convergence after. We use two data sources -- the Long Term Trends NAEP and AFQT scores for the universe of applicants to the U.S. military between 1976 and 1991 -- to show: 1) the 1980's convergence is due to relative improvements across successive cohorts of blacks born between 1963 and the early 1970's and not a secular narrowing in the gap over time; and 2) the across-cohort gains were concentrated among blacks in the South. We then demonstrate that the timing and variation across states in the AFQT convergence closely tracks racial convergence in measures of health and hospital access in the years immediately foll...
October 2008Health Capital and the Prenatal Environment: The Effect of Maternal Fasting During Pregnancy
with Douglas Almond: w14428
We use the Islamic holy month of Ramadan as a natural experiment in fasting and fetal health. In Michigan births 1989-2006, we find prenatal exposure to Ramadan among Arab mothers results in lower birthweight and reduced gestation length. Exposure to Ramadan in the first month of gestation is also associated with a sizable reduction in the number of male births. In Census data for Uganda, Iraq, and the US we find strong associations between in utero exposure to Ramadan and the likelihood of being disabled as an adult. Effects are particularly large for mental (or learning) disabilities. We also find significant effects on proxies for wealth, earnings, the sex composition of the adult population, and more suggestive evidence of effects on schooling. We find no evidence that negative selecti...

Published: ³+HDOWK&DSLWDODQGWKH3UHQDWDO(QYLURQPHQW7KH(IIHFWRI5DPDGDQ2EVHUYDQFH'XULQJ3 UHJQDQF\ ́ ZLWK Bhashkar Mazumder). A m e r i c a n E c o n o m i c J o u r n a l : A p p l i e d E c o n o m i c s , 3 (October 2011), 56 - 85.

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