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The Influence of Early-Life Events on Human Capital, Health Status, and Labor Market Outcomes Over the Life Course

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  • Johnson Rucker C

    ()
    (University of California, Berkeley)

  • Schoeni Robert F

    ()
    (University of Michigan)

Abstract

Using national data from the U.S., we find that poor health at birth and limited parental resources (including low income, lack of health insurance, and unwanted pregnancy) interfere with cognitive development and health capital in childhood, reduce educational attainment, and lead to worse labor market and health outcomes in adulthood. These effects are substantial and robust to the inclusion of sibling fixed effects and an extensive set of controls. The results reveal that low birth weight ages people in their 30s and 40s by 12 years, increases the probability of dropping out of high school by one-third, lowers labor force participation by 5 percentage points, and reduces labor market earnings by roughly 15 percent. While poor birth outcomes reduce human capital accumulation, they explain only 10 percent of the total effect of low birth weight on labor market earnings. Taken together, the evidence is consistent with a negative reinforcing intergenerational transmission of disadvantage within the family; parental economic status influences birth outcomes, birth outcomes have long reaching effects on health and economic status in adulthood, which in turn leads to poor birth outcomes for one’s own children.

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File URL: http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/bejeap.2011.11.issue-3/bejeap.2011.11.3.2521/bejeap.2011.11.3.2521.xml?format=INT
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy.

Volume (Year): 11 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 1-57

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:11:y:2011:i:3:n:3

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Cited by:
  1. Manan Roy, 2011. "How Well Does the U.S. Government Provide Health Insurance?," Departmental Working Papers 1102, Southern Methodist University, Department of Economics.
  2. Jason M. Fletcher & Jody L. Sindelar, 2009. "Estimating Causal Effects of Early Occupational Choice on Later Health: Evidence Using the PSID," NBER Working Papers 15256, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jason Fletcher, 2012. "The Effects of First Occupation on Long Term Health Status: Evidence from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 49-75, March.
  4. Janet Currie, 2008. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Socioeconomic Status, Poor Health in Childhood, and Human Capital Development," NBER Working Papers 13987, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bhashkar Mazumder, 2008. "Does education improve health? A reexamination of the evidence from compulsory schooling laws," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q II, pages 2-16.
  6. Richard Akresh & Redstone Akresh, 2011. "Using Achievement Tests to Measure Language Assimilation and Language Bias among the Children of Immigrants," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(3), pages 647-667.

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