The Copenhagen Consensus Center’s Post-2015 Consensus project has released a new economic analysis on nutrition. Most people would feel that feeding people properly – particularly young children – 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 child’s life – from conception to age two – 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.
The payback changes across different countries but some African countries will be particularly beneficial. 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 Nigeria, each dollar would return $85 in future, higher earnings.
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.