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Mother’s Education and Birth Weight

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Author Info

  • Chevalier, Arnaud

    ()
    (Royal Holloway, University of London)

  • O'Sullivan, Vincent

    ()
    (Trinity College Dublin)

Abstract

Low birth weight has considerable short and long-term consequences and leads to high costs to the individual and society even in a developed economy. Low birth weight is partially a consequence of choices made by the mother pre- and during pregnancy. Thus policies affecting these choices could have large returns. Using British data, maternal education is found to be positively correlated with birth weight. We identify a causal effect of education using the 1947 reform of the minimum school leaving age. Change in compulsory school leaving age has been previously used as an instrument, but has been criticised for mostly picking up time trends. Here, we demonstrate that the policy effects differ by social background and hence provide identification across cohorts but also within cohort. We find modest but heterogenous positive effects of maternal education on birth weight with an increase from the baseline weight ranging from 2% to 6%.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2640.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2640

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Keywords: returns to education; health;

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Cited by:
  1. Pfeiffer, Friedhelm & Coneus, Katja, 2007. "Self-Productivity in Early Childhood," ZEW Discussion Papers 07-053 [rev.], ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  2. Anderberg, Dan & Chevalier, Arnaud & Wadsworth, Jonathan, 2011. "Anatomy of a health scare: Education, income and the MMR controversy in the UK," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 515-530, May.
  3. 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.
  4. Mark E. McGovern, 2012. "Still unequal at birth: birth weight, socioeconomic status and outcomes at age 9," Working Papers 201222, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  5. Daniel Kemptner & Jan Marcus, 2013. "Spillover effects of maternal education on child’s health and health behavior," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 29-52, March.

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