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Mother's education and birth weight

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Author Info

  • Arnaud Chevalier

    (Department of Economics, Royal Holloway, University of London, and Geary Institute, University College Dublin)

  • Vincent O'Sullivan

    (Department of Economics, Warwick University and Geary Institute, University 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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File URL: http://www.ucd.ie/geary/static/publications/workingpapers/GearyWp200724.pdf
File Function: Draft 2.2, 2007
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Geary Institute, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 200724.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: 12 Jun 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucd:wpaper:200724

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Keywords: Returns to education; health;

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Cited by:
  1. Mark E. McGovern, 2012. "Still Unequal At Birth: Birth Weight, Socioeconomic Status,And Outcomes at Age 9," PGDA Working Papers 9512, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
  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. 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.
  4. Katja Coneus & Friedhelm Pfeiffer, 2007. "Self-Productivity in Early Childhood," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 39, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  5. Janet Currie, 2009. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Socioeconomic Status, Poor Health in Childhood, and Human Capital Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(1), pages 87-122, March.

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