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The Effect of Breastfeeding on Children's Cognitive and Noncognitive Development

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Author Info

  • Borra, Cristina

    ()
    (University of Seville)

  • Iacovou, Maria

    ()
    (University of Essex)

  • Sevilla, Almudena

    ()
    (Queen Mary, University of London)

Abstract

This paper uses propensity score matching methods to investigate the relationship between breastfeeding and children's cognitive and noncognitive development. We find that breastfeeding for four weeks is positively and statistically significantly associated with higher cognitive test scores, by around one tenth of a standard deviation. The association between breastfeeding and noncognitive development is weaker, and is restricted to children of less educated mothers. We conclude that interventions which increase breastfeeding rates would improve not only children's health, but also their cognitive skills, and possibly also their noncognitive development.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6697.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6697

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Keywords: breastfeeding;

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References

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  1. Leon Feinstein, 2003. "Inequality in the Early Cognitive Development of British Children in the 1970 Cohort," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 70(277), pages 73-97, February.
  2. Sascha O. Becker & Andrea Ichino, 2002. "Estimation of average treatment effects based on propensity scores," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 2(4), pages 358-377, November.
  3. David Johnston & Carol Propper & Stephen Pudney & Michael Shields, 2011. "Child mental health and educational attainment: multiple observers and the measurement error problem," CeMMAP working papers CWP27/11, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  4. Dehejia, R.H. & Wahba, S., 1998. "Propensity Score Matching Methods for Non-Experimental Causal Studies," Discussion Papers 1998_02, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  5. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J., 2010. "Investing in Our Young People," IZA Discussion Papers 5050, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Daniel I. Rees & Joseph J. Sabia, 2009. "The Effect of Breast Feeding on Educational Attainment: Evidence from Sibling Data," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 43-72.
  7. James J. Heckman, 1989. "Choosing Among Alternative Nonexperimental Methods for Estimating the Impact of Social Programs: The Case of Manpower Training," NBER Working Papers 2861, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Clive R. Belfield & Inas Rashad Kelly, 2010. "The Benefits of Breastfeeding Across the Early Years of Childhood," NBER Working Papers 16496, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M. & Imbens, Guido, 2009. "Recent Developments in the Econometrics of Program Evaluation," Scholarly Articles 3043416, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Paul Gregg & Elizabeth Washbrook & Carol Propper & Simon Burgess, 2005. "The Effects of a Mother's Return to Work Decision on Child Development in the UK," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(501), pages F48-F80, 02.
  12. Baker, Michael & Milligan, Kevin, 2008. "Maternal employment, breastfeeding, and health: Evidence from maternity leave mandates," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 871-887, July.
  13. Ichino, Andrea & Mealli, Fabrizia & Nannicini, Tommaso, 2006. "From Temporary Help Jobs to Permanent Employment: What Can We Learn from Matching Estimators and their Sensitivity?," CEPR Discussion Papers 5736, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Tommaso Nannicini, 2006. "A Simulation-Based Sensitivity Analysis for Matching Estimators," North American Stata Users' Group Meetings 2006 6, Stata Users Group.
  15. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman, 2008. "Formulating, Identifying and Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
  16. Susanne Schennach & James Heckman & Flavio Cunha, 2007. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," 2007 Meeting Papers 973, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  17. McCrory, Cathal & Layte, Richard, 2011. "The effect of breastfeeding on children's educational test scores at nine years of age: Results of an Irish cohort study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(9), pages 1515-1521, May.
  18. Zhao, Zhong, 2008. "Sensitivity of propensity score methods to the specifications," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 98(3), pages 309-319, March.
  19. Reilly, Siobhan & Evenhouse, Eirik, 2005. "Improved estimates of the benefits of breastfeeding using sibling comparisons to reduce selection bias," MPRA Paper 13434, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  20. Kevin Denny & Orla Doyle, 2010. "The causal effect of breastfeeding on children’s cognitive development: A quasi-experimental design," Working Papers 201005, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
  21. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J., 2007. "The Evolution of Inequality, Heterogeneity and Uncertainty in Labor Earnings in the U.S. Economy," IZA Discussion Papers 3115, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  22. Heckman, James J & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Todd, Petra E, 1997. "Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 605-54, October.
  23. Michela Bia & Alessandra Mattei, 2008. "A Stata package for the estimation of the dose–response function through adjustment for the generalized propensity score," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 8(3), pages 354-373, September.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Kitty Stewart, 2013. "Labour’s Record on the Under Fives: Policy, Spending and Outcomes 1997-2010," CASE Papers /176, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
  2. George Wehby, 2014. "Breastfeeding and Child Disability: A Comparison of Siblings from the United States," NBER Working Papers 19940, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Kitty Stewart, 2013. "Labour's Record on the Under Fives: Policy, Spending and Outcomes 1997 - 2010," CASE - Social Policy in a Cold Climate Working Paper 04, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
  4. Kobayashi, Miki & Usui, Emiko, 2014. "Breastfeeding Practices and Parental Employment in Japan," IZA Discussion Papers 8116, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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