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Stunting, IQ, and Final School Attainment in the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey Birth Cohort


Adair, Linda S.; Carba, Delia B.; Lee, Nanette R.; & Borja, Judith B. (2021). Stunting, IQ, and Final School Attainment in the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey Birth Cohort. Economics & Human Biology, 42, 100999.


School attainment is an important aspect of human capital, and a key determinant of long-term health and well-being. Early life deprivation and poor nutritional status are well known predictors of school entry and progression. We examine the persistence of early life influences and subsequent socioeconomic disadvantage (SED) across the multiple school continuation decisions that lead to final school attainment. Using data from a Philippine birth cohort followed for 35 years, we model 6 continuation decisions: Did not complete elementary school, elementary graduate only (completed grade 6), some secondary schooling, high school graduate, some postsecondary schooling, and college graduate, as well as total years of schooling. We estimate the association of school attainment with early life length for age Z-score (LAZ at 2 years of age) and cognitive development (IQ) as well as underlying indicators of SED and other family influences through early adulthood. The analysis sample includes >1900 participants in the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey. Females completed, on average, one year more schooling than males, and twice as many females as males were college graduates (29.1 vs 15.0 %). LAZ and one standard deviation of IQ were each independently associated with 0.4 more years of attained schooling. A path model demonstrated strong direct associations of SED with years of schooling as well as indirect associations through LAZ and IQ. Sequential logits used to estimate continuing education decisions show persistent associations of early life LAZ and IQ and schooling even after accounting for changing SED of households over the schooling life course. Filipino parents had high but often unmet educational aspirations for their children because of the child's loss of interest in school and perceived financial barriers. Results further emphasize the importance of early life SED as a key risk factor for suboptimal school attainment.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Article Type


Year Published


Journal Title

Economics & Human Biology


Adair, Linda S.
Carba, Delia B.
Lee, Nanette R.
Borja, Judith B.

Data Set/Study

Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey (CLHNS)