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Born to Win? The Role of Circumstances and Luck in Early Childhood Health Inequalities

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  • David Madden

    (University College Dublin)

Abstract

This paper measures the degree of inequality of opportunity in birthweight and birthlength for a sample of Irish infants. The sample is partitioned into eight types by mothers’ education and mothers’ smoking status. Stochastic dominance tests reveal the presence of inequality of opportunity but its fraction of total inequality is comparatively small at 1-2%, with the remainder of inequality assigned to random, unobserved factors. These results are robust to finer partitioning of the population and to re-definition of types’ opportunity sets which gives greater weight to inequality at the lower end of the distribution. Analysis of the incidence of low birthweight and short birthlength using measures from the poverty and segregation literature also reveal that incidence is not uniform across type and is consistent with the presence of inequality of opportunity.

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File URL: http://www.ucd.ie/t4cms/WP13_13.pdf
File Function: First version, 2013
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by School Of Economics, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 201313.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: 27 Sep 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:201313

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Keywords: Inequality of opportunity; decomposition; poverty; child health;

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  1. Sandra E. Black & Paul Devereux & Kjell Salvanes, 2006. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," CEE Discussion Papers 0061, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  2. Liam Delaney & Mark McGovern & James P. Smith, 2009. "From Angela's Ashes to the Celtic Tiger: Early Life Conditions and Adult Health in Ireland," Working Papers 200943, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  3. Almond, Douglas & Currie, Janet, 2011. "Human Capital Development before Age Five," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
  4. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie, 2011. "Killing Me Softly: The Fetal Origins Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 153-72, Summer.
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