Non-market returns to traditional human capital: Nutritional status and traditional knowledge in a native amazonian society

Victoria Reyes-García*, Thomas McDade, Vincent Vadez, Tomás Huanca, William R. Leonard, Susan Tanner, Ricardo Godoy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

In industrial economies schooling produces positive non-market returns but do traditional forms of human capital also produce such returns, and do schooling and traditional human capital act as complements or substitutes in their association with well-being? Drawing on data from 450 adults (16+ years of age) from an indigenous Amazonian society in Bolivia, we estimate the association between traditional plant knowledge and nutritional status as measured by body-mass index. After conditioning for many covariates, we find that doubling an adult's traditional knowledge is associated with a mean improvement in BMI of 6.3 per cent; the association is stronger for unschooled adults and for those living far from the market town. Though schooling bore a negative association with traditional knowledge, those two forms of human capital had independent associations with BMI. The analysis suggests that schooling does not necessarily undermine the accumulation of traditional knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-232
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Development Studies
Volume44
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development

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