, Volume 55, Issue 3, pp 1091–1118 | Cite as

Growing and Learning When Consumption Is Seasonal: Long-Term Evidence From Tanzania

  • Paul Christian
  • Brian DillonEmail author


This article shows that the seasonality of food consumption during childhood, conditional on average consumption, affects long-run human capital development. We develop a model that distinguishes differences in average consumption levels, seasonal fluctuations, and idiosyncratic shocks, and estimate the model using panel data from early 1990s Tanzania. We then test whether the mean and seasonality of a child’s consumption profile affect height and educational attainment in 2010. Results show that the negative effects of greater seasonality are 30 % to 60 % of the magnitudes of the positive effects of greater average consumption. Put differently, children expected to have identical human capital based on annualized consumption measures will have substantially different outcomes if one child’s consumption is more seasonal. We discuss implications for measurement and policy.


Seasonality Nutrition Human capital Height Education 



We are grateful to the African Development Bank, World Bank, and Cornell University for funding through the STAARS program. We thank the Editors, three anonymous referees, Abraham Abebe Asfaw, Chris Barrett, Anirban Basu, Jere Behrman, Leah Bevis, Joshua Blumenstock, Jennifer Burney, Michael Carter, Arun Chandrasekhar, Norma Coe, Alison Cullen, Joachim De Weerdt, Andrew Foster, Rachel Heath, Heather Hill, Kalle Hirvonen, Martijn Huysmans, Nathan Jensen, Arianna Legovini, Mark Long, Linden McBride, Tyler McCormick, Ellen McCullough, Craig McIntosh, Robert Plotnick, Jenny Romich, Jacob Vigdor, and seminar participants at Cornell, KU Leuven, the World Bank, the University of Washington, the Second Annual Global Food Security Conference, the STAARS conference in Addis Ababa, the 2017 Pacific Development Conference, and the 2017 Annual Bank Conference on Africa for helpful discussions and comments. We are joint first authors on the article. Any errors are our responsibility.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.World BankWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Evans School of Public Policy and GovernanceUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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