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Lasting Impact of Early Life Interventions: Evidence from India’s Integrated Child Development Services
Dhamija G.,
Published in Routledge
Volume: 57
Issue: 1
Pages: 106 - 138

In the year 1975, the Indian government initiated the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), the largest national programme in the world targeting long-term nutrition and holistic development of children, to be implemented through the Anganwadi Centres (AWC). Combining differences across villages in the year of AWC construction with birth-year of children, we capture the variation in ‘exposure’ to the programme, to estimate the impact of the ICDS exposure through access to AWCs on later life health outcomes of children. Our findings suggest that a 10–13 year old cohort fully exposed to the scheme during first three years of life has higher height (by 2.3 cm) and weight (by 1 kg) as compared to the same cohort, not exposed to the services in initial three years. The Z score of height-for-age (ZHFA) and Z score of weight-for-age ZWFA, although not statistically significant, seem to increase as well. The average impacts seem to be as high as 0.74 cm and 0.33 kg for an extra year of exposure, for measures of height and weight, respectively. Our findings are robust to changing age cohorts and several specifications. The effects seem to be larger among girls and in poor households. © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

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