Maternal phenotype, independent of family economic capital predicts educational attainment in lowland Nepalese children
Wells, Jonathan CK
Manandhar, Dharma S
American Journal of Human Biology
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Marphatia, A., Devakumar, D., Wells, J. C., Saville, N., Reid, A., Costello, A., Manandhar, D. S., & et al. (2016). Maternal phenotype, independent of family economic capital predicts educational attainment in lowland Nepalese children. American Journal of Human Biology, 28 687-698. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajhb.22852
Background: Factors acting before children are born or reach school-going age may explain why some do not complete primary education. Many relevant factors relate to maternal phenotype, but few studies have tested for independent associations of maternal factors relative to those characterising the family in general. Methods: Using data from a longitudinal study of 838 children in Dhanusha, Nepal, we used logistic regression models to test whether indices of maternal somatic and educational capital, or family economic capital, were independently associated with children having had ≤2 versus 3+ years of schooling at a mean age of 8.5 years. We also tested whether maternal age, children’s early growth and urban/rural location mediated such associations. Results: Children had a higher risk of completing less schooling if their mothers were short, thin, anaemic, and uneducated. Independently, lower family material assets and land acreage also increased children’s odds of less schooling. There was an indication of gender differences, with the risk of poor educational attainment in girls associated with low maternal somatic and educational capital, whereas in boys, the relevant factors were low maternal education and family land ownership. Conclusions: Our analysis demonstrates that, independent of broader indices of family capital such as land or material assets, children’s educational attainment is associated with factors embodied in maternal phenotype. Both maternal somatic and educational capital appeared important. A composite index of maternal capital could provide a new measurable proxy, prior to school entry, for identifying children at risk of completing fewer years of schooling.
life-course, early growth, education, malnutrition, gender, Nepal
There was no funding provided for this analysis. The original trial and 8.5 year follow-up were funded by the Wellcome Trust, who also provided support for D Osrin (091561/Z/10/Z) and D Devakumar (092121/Z/10/Z).
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/ajhb.22852
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/254228