This paper estimates the effects of China's Universal Salt Iodization (USI) policy in 1994 – the largest nutrition intervention policy in human history – on children's later-life educational outcomes. Using population census data combined with county-level information, we apply a difference- in-differences strategy to compare the educational outcomes of cohorts born before and after USI across counties with different iodine deficiency disorder levels. Our results show that USI increased primary school enrollment by 0.6 percentage points. Further investigation suggests that girls and children born in rural areas benefit more from USI. The costs of USI almost evenly fell on China's iodine salt consumers through an in-price tax.
Paper written by: Qingyang Huanga, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California at Berkeley, United States / Chang Liub, The Paul and Marcia Wythes Center on Contemporary China, Princeton University, United States & School of Economics and Management, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, China / Li-An Zhoud, Guanghua School of Management, Peking University, China