The long-term impact of education on dietary diversity among women in Zimbabwe
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Education is perceived to have a positive impact on a variety of health outcomes. However, it is unclear how causal this association is or what could account for the observed relationship, especially in low-income countries. This study examined the educational gradient in dietary diversity among young women using individual-level survey data from Zimbabwe. A parametric fuzzy regression discontinuity design was used in the empirical analysis, with school reform exposure serving as an instrumental variable for educational attainment. The results show that increased schooling improves dietary diversity among women and that this effect is large and statistically significant. An examination of the potential mechanisms by which education improves dietary diversity revealed that women with more education are more likely to engage with print media by reading newspapers or magazines, to be literate, to access prenatal care when pregnant, to be wealthier, to have fewer children, and to live in metropolitan areas. These findings suggest that expanding educational opportunities, particularly for young girls in developing countries like Zimbabwe, could be a useful policy strategy to promote healthy eating among young women and, as a result, could enhance population health and nutrition outcomes.
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