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Separated at Girth: US Twin Estimates of the Effects of Birth Weight

  • Heather Royer

The fetal origins hypothesis asserts that nutrient deprivation in utero can raise chronic disease risk. Within economics, this hypothesis has gained acceptance as a leading explanation for the correlations between birth weight, a proxy for fetal nutrient intake, and adult outcomes. Exploiting birth-weight differences between twins using (a) a newlycreated dataset of twins from 1960-1982 California birth records and (b) the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Birth Cohort, I find birth weight is related to educational attainment, later pregnancy complications, and the birth weight of the next generation. These effects are generally small. However, the protective effects of birth weight vary across the birth-weight distribution. (JEL: I12, I21, J13)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/app.1.1.49
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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aej-applied/data/2007-0002_data.zip
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 1 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 49-85

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:1:y:2009:i:1:p:49-85
Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.1.1.49
Contact details of provider: Web page: https://www.aeaweb.org/aej-applied
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  1. Janet Currie & Mark Stabile, 2003. "Socioeconomic Status and Child Health: Why Is the Relationship Stronger for Older Children?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1813-1823, December.
  2. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
  3. Mark R. Rosenzweig & Junsen Zhang, 2009. "Do Population Control Policies Induce More Human Capital Investment? Twins, Birth Weight and China's "One-Child" Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(3), pages 1149-1174.
  4. Anne Case & Angela Fertig & Christina Paxson, 2004. "The Lasting Impact of Childhood Health and Circumstance," Working Papers 246, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  5. B. Douglas Bernheim & Sergei Severinov, 2003. "Bequests as Signals: An Explanation for the Equal Division Puzzle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(4), pages 733-764, August.
  6. Rosemary Hyson & Janet Currie, 1999. "Is the Impact of Health Shocks Cushioned by Socioeconomic Status? The Case of Low Birthweight," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 245-250, May.
  7. Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2003. "Mother'S Education And The Intergenerational Transmission Of Human Capital: Evidence From College Openings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1495-1532, November.
  8. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1995. "Sisters, Siblings, and Mothers: The Effect of Teen-Age Childbearing on Birth Outcomes in a Dynamic Family Context," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(2), pages 303-26, March.
  9. Hausman, J. A. & Abrevaya, Jason & Scott-Morton, F. M., 1998. "Misclassification of the dependent variable in a discrete-response setting," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 239-269, September.
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