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The medium term schooling and health effects of low birth weight: Evidence from siblings


  • Fletcher, Jason M.


Research has shown that low birth weight is linked to infant mortality as well as longer term outcomes. This paper examines the medium term outcomes that may link low birth weight to adult disadvantage using a national longitudinal sample with a large sample of siblings (Add Health). Results show strong effects on several educational outcomes, including early grade repetition, receipt of special education services, and reports of a learning disability. Results for longer term outcomes are suggestive, though less robust and small in magnitude. Overall, the results suggest that medium term educational disadvantages associated with low birth weight are not driven by family level unobservables and do not accumulate into large long-term disadvantage.

Suggested Citation

  • Fletcher, Jason M., 2011. "The medium term schooling and health effects of low birth weight: Evidence from siblings," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 517-527, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:30:y:2011:i:3:p:517-527

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Heather Royer, 2009. "Separated at Girth: US Twin Estimates of the Effects of Birth Weight," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 49-85, January.
    2. Douglas Almond & Kenneth Y. Chay & David S. Lee, 2005. "The Costs of Low Birth Weight," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 1031-1083.
    3. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2007. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 409-439.
    4. Corman, Hope & Chaikind, Stephen, 1998. "The effect of low birthweight on the school performance and behavior of school-aged children," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 307-316, June.
    5. Jason Boardman & Daniel Powers & Yolanda Padilla & Robert Hummer, 2002. "Low birth weight, social factors, and developmental outcomes among children in the United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 39(2), pages 353-368, May.
    6. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2004. "Returns to Birthweight," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 586-601, May.
    7. 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.
    8. Bound, John & Solon, Gary, 1999. "Double trouble: on the value of twins-based estimation of the return to schooling," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 169-182, April.
    9. repec:ucn:wpaper:10197/317 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Fletcher, Jason & Wolfe, Barbara, 2008. "Child mental health and human capital accumulation: The case of ADHD revisited," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 794-800, May.
    11. Dhuey, Elizabeth & Lipscomb, Stephen, 2010. "Disabled or young? Relative age and special education diagnoses in schools," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 857-872, October.
    12. Ashlesha Datar & M. Kilburn & David Loughran, 2010. "Endowments and parental investments in infancy and early childhood," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 47(1), pages 145-162, February.
    13. Dalton Conley & Kate Strully & Neil G. Bennett, 2003. "A Pound of Flesh or Just Proxy? Using Twin Differences to Estimate the Effect of Birth Weight on Life Chances," NBER Working Papers 9901, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chatterji, Pinka & Lahiri, Kajal & Kim, Dohyung, 2014. "Fetal growth and neurobehavioral outcomes in childhood," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 15(C), pages 187-200.
    2. Fletcher, Jason & Kumar, Sanjeev, 2014. "Religion and risky health behaviors among U.S. adolescents and adults," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 123-140.
    3. Lina Cardona-Sosa & Carlos Medina, 2016. "The Effects of In utero Programs on Birth Outcomes: The Case of “Buen Comienzo” *** El Efecto de Programas dirigidos a Madres Gestantes en Indicadores al Nacer: El caso de “Buen Comienzo”," Borradores de Economia 955, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    4. Johnson, Eric & Reynolds, C. Lockwood, 2013. "The effect of household hospitalizations on the educational attainment of youth," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 165-182.
    5. Fletcher Jason M. & Schurer Stefanie, 2017. "Origins of Adulthood Personality: The Role of Adverse Childhood Experiences," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 17(2), pages 1-22, April.
    6. Eide, Eric R. & Showalter, Mark H., 2011. "Estimating the relation between health and education: What do we know and what do we need to know?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 778-791, October.
    7. Brandon J. Restrepo, 2016. "Parental investment responses to a low birth weight outcome: who compensates and who reinforces?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(4), pages 969-989, October.


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