Joint Effects of Parenting and Nutrition Status on Child Development: Evidence from Rural Cambodia

Diskussionspapiere extern

Jan Berkes, Abbie Raikes, Adrien Bouguen, Deon Filmer

Washington: World Bank Group, 2018, 36 S.
(Policy Research Working Paper ; 8529)


Substantial work has demonstrated that early nutrition and home environments, including the degree to which children receive cognitive stimulation and emotional support from parents, play a profound role in influencing early childhood development. Yet, less work has documented the joint influences of parenting and nutrition status on child development among children in the preschool years living in low-income countries. Using panel data on parenting, nutrition status, and early developmental outcomes of about 7,000 Cambodian preschool-age children, this paper demonstrates that inequities in early development associated with family wealth are evident at the start of preschool and increase over time. A significant share of these inequalities can be explained by differences in parental stimulation and early nutrition status. Better educated parents engage in better parental activities that stimulate children's development. However, the positive association between parental activities and child outcomes is particularly strong for non-stunted children, and parental activities can only explain about 8-14 percent of the cognitive gap between the lowest and highest wealth quintiles. The results highlight the need for integrated interventions that address both parenting and early nutrition, also suggesting that parenting interventions for the most disadvantaged families should be carefully designed and evaluated to ensure maximum effectiveness.

Jan Berkes

Research Associate in the Education and Family Department