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Reducing the Incidence of Low Birth Weight in Low-Income Countries Has Substantial Economic Benefits

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  • Harold Alderman
  • Jere R. Behrman

Abstract

Reducing the incidence of low birth weight not only lowers infant mortality rates but also has multiple benefits over the life cycle. This study estimates the economic benefits of reducing the incidence of low birth weight in low-income countries, both through lower mortality rates and medical costs and through increased learning and productivity. The estimated economic benefits, under plausible assumptions, are fairly substantial, at about $510 per infant moved from a low-birth-weight status. The estimated gains are primarily from increases in labor productivity (partially through more education) and secondarily from avoiding costs due to infant illness and death. Thus there may be many interventions to reduce the incidence of low birth weight that are warranted purely on the grounds of saving resources or increasing productivity. Copyright 2006, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Harold Alderman & Jere R. Behrman, 2006. "Reducing the Incidence of Low Birth Weight in Low-Income Countries Has Substantial Economic Benefits," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 21(1), pages 25-48.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:21:y:2006:i:1:p:25-48
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    Cited by:

    1. Julia A. Barde & Juliana Walkiewicz, 2014. "Access to Piped Water and Human Capital Formation - Evidence from Brazilian Primary Schools," Discussion Paper Series 28, Department of International Economic Policy, University of Freiburg, revised Jul 2014.
    2. Singh, Prakarsh & Mitra, Sandip, 2017. "Incentives, information and malnutrition: Evidence from an experiment in India," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 24-46.
    3. World Bank Group, 2015. "Rwanda Poverty Assessment," World Bank Other Operational Studies 22970, The World Bank.
    4. Martine AUDIBERT & Pascale COMBES MOTEL & Alassane DRABO, 2010. "Global Burden of Disease and Economic Growth," Working Papers 201036, CERDI.
    5. Marc Hofstetter & Jorge Tovar & Miguel Urrutia, 2011. "Effects of a Mortgage Interest Rate Subsidy: Evidence from Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 008749, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    6. repec:wbk:wbpubs:28030 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. María Fernanda Rosales, 2014. "Impact of Early Life Shocks on Human Capital Formation: El Niño Floods in Ecuador," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 87693, Inter-American Development Bank.
    8. Schultz, T. Paul, 2010. "Population and Health Policies," Handbook of Development Economics, Elsevier.
    9. Yamauchi, Futoshi & Higuchi, Katsuhiko & Suhaeti, Rita Nur, 2009. "Impacts of prenatal and environmental factors on child growth: Evidence from Indonesia," IFPRI discussion papers 933, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    10. Marco Manacorda & Martin Foureaux Koppensteiner, 2013. "The Effect of Violence on Birth Outcomes: Evidence from Homicides in Rural Brazil," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 4613, Inter-American Development Bank.
    11. Wei Huang & Xiaoyan Lei & Geert Ridder & John Strauss & Yaohui Zhao, 2013. "Health, Height, Height Shrinkage, and SES at Older Ages: Evidence from China," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 86-121, April.
    12. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:29:y:2018:i:c:p:88-101 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Lawson, Nicholas & Spears, Dean, 2016. "What doesn't kill you makes you poorer: Adult wages and early-life mortality in India," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 1-16.
    14. Mohamed, Issam A.W., 2011. "Challenges of formal social security systems in Sudan," MPRA Paper 31611, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Jere R. Behrman & John Hoddinott & John A. Maluccio, & Erica Soler-Hampejsek & Emily L. Behrman & Reynaldo Martorell & Manuel Ramirez-Zea & Aryeh D. Stein, 2006. "What Determines Adult Cognitive Skills? Impacts of Pre-Schooling, Schooling and Post-Schooling Experiences in Guatemala," PIER Working Paper Archive 06-027, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    16. David Bishai & Divya Nair & Taghreed Adam, 2012. "Economics of Public Health Interventions for Children in Developing Countries," Chapters,in: The Elgar Companion to Health Economics, Second Edition, chapter 5 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    17. Yamauchi, Futoshi, 2012. "Long-term Impacts of Rice Price and Production Seasonality on Human Capital: Evidence from Rural Indonesia," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 126163, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    18. Germano Mwabu, 2008. "The Production of Child Health in Kenya: A Structural Model of Birth Weight," Working Papers 963, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    19. Alberto, Gabriele & Schettino, Francesco, 2006. "Child Mortality In China And Vietnam In A Comparative Perspective," MPRA Paper 3987, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Dec 2006.
    20. Jere R. Behrman & Julia A. Behrman & Nykia M. Perez, 2009. "On what diseases and health conditions should new economic research on health and development focus?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(S1), pages 109-128, April.
    21. Katherine P. Adams & Travis J. Lybbert & Stephen A. Vosti & Emmanuel Ayifah, 2016. "Using an economic experiment to estimate willingness-to-pay for a new maternal nutrient supplement in Ghana," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 47(5), pages 581-595, September.
    22. Juan Felipe Brando & Rafael J. Santos, 2015. "La Niña y los niños: Effects of an Unexpected Winter on Early Life Human Capital and Family Responses," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 013316, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    23. Singh, Prakarsh & Masters, William A., 2016. "Behavior Change for Early Childhood Nutrition: Effectiveness of Health Worker Training Depends on Maternal Information in a Randomized Control Trial," IZA Discussion Papers 10375, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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