Here is our new economic analysis on nutrition, part of the topic on Food Security and Nutrition.
Most people would feel that feeding people properly â€“ particularly young children â€“ is something we simply have to tackle. And it turns out that what looks like a good idea morally is also really good economically.
The first 1,000 days of a childâ€™s life â€“ from conception to age two â€“ are vital for proper development. Poorly nourished infants become stunted (being lower than the expected height for age), and fall behind better-fed ones in developing cognitive skills. This lack of development has real long-term consequences. Stunted children do less well at school and lead poorer adult lives.
What's the smartest target?
As reported inReuters and in The Wall Street Journal, alleviating stunting can be done relatively cheaply â€“ with a suite of interventions that produce dramatic long-term results.
In total, if an individual works until 50 years old, each dollar spent returns $45. This only accounts for increased earning potential and excludes health benefits of better nutrition including 15% reduction in under-5 deaths, so it is likely a conservative estimate.
Benefit Per Child
Cost Per Child
Benefit For Every Dollar Spent
Reduce by 40% the number of children who are stunted.
The payback changes across different countries. This is because the cost of nutrition interventions are about the same everywhere, but in countries with higher incomes or with higher economic growth rates, the benefit of smarter people are even greater. For Indonesia, each dollar would return $166 in future, higher earnings.
Here, we present the early release perspective paper for our upcoming research focused on Food Security and Nutrition. Susan Horton, CIGI Chair in Global Health Economics at University of Waterloo, Canada and John Hoddinott, H.E. Babcock Professor of Food & Nutrition Economics and Policy at Cornell University present a cost-benefit analysis of nutrition interventions aimed at reducing stunting.
PhD and Adjunct Professor
President of Copenhagen Consensus Center
PS. The Post-2015 Consensus project brings together 60 teams of economists with NGOs, international agencies and businesses to identify the targets with the greatest benefit-to-cost ratio for the UN's post-2015 development goals. If you have questions about the project, send an email to Research Project Manager Brad Wong by replying to this email.