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Explaining the Birth Order Effect: The Role of Prenatal and Early Childhood Investments

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Author Info

  • Lehmann, Jee-Yeon K.

    ()
    (University of Houston)

  • Nuevo-Chiquero, Ana

    ()
    (University of Sheffield)

  • Vidal-Fernández, Marian

    ()
    (University of New South Wales)

Abstract

The critical role of prenatal and early childhood conditions on adult outcomes has been the focus of a rich body of research. In this paper, we examine various pre- and postnatal investments as possible sources behind the "birth order effect" – significant differences in the educational and labor market outcomes across children of varying birth orders. Taking advantage of a rich set of information on in utero and early childhood conditions in the Children of the NLSY79, we find that, within the same household, siblings of higher birth order experience a lower reduction in cigarette usage during pregnancy, are breastfed less often, and experience less cognitive stimulation and emotional support at ages 0 to 1. Next, we test for the presence of birth order effects in early cognitive and non-cognitive test scores and examine whether these differences can be explained by variations in prenatal and early childhood investments. Although there exists a significant negative relationship between birth order and early cognitive/non-cognitive test scores, the size and the significance of the negative birth order effects in test scores and educational attainment are robust to controlling for variations in early childhood factors.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6755.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6755

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Related research

Keywords: birth order; early test scores; parental investment; prenatal investment; postnatal investment; early childhood investment; fetal origins hypothesis; cognitive outcomes; non-cognitive outcomes;

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  1. Iacovou, Maria, 2001. "Family composition and children's educational outcomes," ISER Working Paper Series 2001-12, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  2. Currie, Janet & Grogger, Jeffrey, 2002. "Medicaid expansions and welfare contractions: offsetting effects on prenatal care and infant health?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 313-335, March.
  3. C. Monfardini & S. G. See, 2012. "Birth order and child outcomes: does maternal quality time matter?," Working Papers wp846, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  4. Frank Heiland, 2009. "Does the birth order affect the cognitive development of a child?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(14), pages 1799-1818.
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Cited by:
  1. Bertoni, Marco & Brunello, Giorgio, 2013. "Laterborns Don't Give Up: The Effects of Birth Order on Earnings in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 7679, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. 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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