This paper examines the growth effect of one of the largest nutrition assistance programs in early life. The program covers 5.8 million children in poor rural China and provides 6-24-month old children with a free nutrition supplement that contains nine essential micronutrients. We utilize a phase-in procedure by county for identification and estimate its impact on several early-life health indicators. Robust evidence shows that such nutrition supplements effectively increase boys' weight and reduce their probability of being underweight. No effect is observed on girls of similar age. These health indicators are related to long-term human capital development. The gender differences in policy impact that are identified in this paper have important implications for nutrition subsidy in the early years of life in developing countries.
Nutrition complementary feeding health children poverty