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First Mondays: February Policy Salon

Venue information is shared only with invited attendees. Click here to request an invitation, join our community, or update your profile.

This month's salon will be led by member Debi Spindelman, who is considering the issue for future PhD work. This will be her first public exploration of the topic.

Topic: Why the Richard Bransons, Ben Bernankes, and Bill Brattons of the world should care about stunting (a.k.a. chronic, early-life malnutrition)

Combating stunting (a.k.a. chronic, early-life malnutrition) is thought to be primarily a humanitarian concern – “no child should starve” is presumably a platform that both Bernie and Ted could get behind. Beyond the morality of the issue, however, stunting’s negative effects on cognitive development touch multiple points across society – e.g., a capable, productive labor force is necessary for a thriving business and economic environment, and anecdotal evidence suggests that these children may be more susceptible later in life to enrollment in the criminal activity that everyone from defense secretaries to beat cops expend so much blood, treasure, and energy to counter. The long-term threat posed by stunting is not only an issue for development practitioners in poor countries, but also for policy makers in fast-developing economies like India, law enforcement in conflict-impacted areas of the U.S., and business leaders from Wall Street to Delhi.

Here are some suggested readings to guide our discussion. We recommend reading these in the order listed below.

  1. How Poverty Stunts Kids' Brain Development
    Poverty is not just a social issue; it is a biomedical problem that negatively affects children’s brain/cognitive development and their ability to lead a productive life.
  2. America's Real Criminal Element: Lead
    Extremely well-researched, easy to read article that links cognitive impairment and security, which is critical to our discussion of the impact of stunting on the economic and security environment. New research finds that lead is the hidden villain behind violent crime, lower IQs, and even the ADHD epidemic.
  3. A Booming Economy Doesn't Save Children From Malnutrition
    A flush economy does not ensure against malnourished children if policy makers only invest in high-return business sectors and not in their human capital. 
  4. Jobs and Jail Might Not Keep Young Men Out of Crime, But How About Therapy? 
    Investing in cognitive behavior therapy may be a crucial tool to mitigate the effects of childhood and adolescent trauma. Training young men on how to control anger and impulses has had success from Liberia to Chicago.

Additional articles will be posted on our Facebook page.