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The Effect of Breast Feeding on Educational Attainment: Evidence from Sibling Data

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  • Daniel I. Rees
  • Joseph J. Sabia

Abstract

Using data on sibling pairs drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we estimate the effect of having been breast-fed on high school graduation, high school grades, and college attendance. Our results suggest that breast feeding is associated with substantial increases in high school grade point average and in the probability of college attendance. Adding measures of cognitive ability and adolescent health to our model explains more than one-half of the estimated effect of being breast-fed on high school grades and approximately one-fifth of the estimated effect on college attendance. We conclude that improvements in cognitive ability and adolescent health may be important pathways through which breast feeding affects long-term academic achievement. (c) 2009 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

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  • Daniel I. Rees & Joseph J. Sabia, 2009. "The Effect of Breast Feeding on Educational Attainment: Evidence from Sibling Data," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 43-72.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jhucap:v:3:y:2009:i:1:p:43-72
    DOI: 10.1086/599861
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Reilly, Siobhan & Evenhouse, Eirik, 2005. "Improved estimates of the benefits of breastfeeding using sibling comparisons to reduce selection bias," MPRA Paper 13434, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Paul Gregg & Elizabeth Washbrook & Carol Propper & Simon Burgess, 2005. "The Effects of a Mother's Return to Work Decision on Child Development in the UK," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(501), pages 48-80, February.
    3. Durden, Garey C & Ellis, Larry V, 1995. "The Effects of Attendance on Student Learning in Principles of Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 343-346, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. George Wehby, 2014. "Breastfeeding and Child Disability: A Comparison of Siblings from the United States," NBER Working Papers 19940, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Peter, Frauke H. & Spieß, C. Katharina, 2016. "Family Instability and Locus of Control in Adolescence," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 1439-1471.
    3. Resul Cesur & Joseph J. Sabia & Inas Rashad Kelly & Muzhe Yang, 2017. "The effect of breastfeeding on young adult wages: new evidence from the add health," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 25-51, March.
    4. 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.
    5. De Cao, Elisabetta, 2014. "The height production function from birth to maturity," Research Report 14018-EEF, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
    6. Elisabetta De Cao, 2015. "The Height Production Function from Birth to Age Two," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(3), pages 329-363.
    7. Borra, Cristina & Iacovou, Maria & Sevilla, Almudena, 2012. "The effect of breastfeeding on children's cognitive and noncognitive development," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 496-515.
    8. Koh, Kanghyock, 2017. "Maternal breastfeeding and children's cognitive development," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 187(C), pages 101-108.
    9. Monique De Haan & Erik Plug & José Rosero, 2014. "Birth Order and Human Capital Development: Evidence from Ecuador," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 49(2), pages 359-392.
    10. repec:dgr:rugsom:14018-eef is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Clive R. Belfield & Inas Rashad Kelly, 2012. "The Benefits of Breast Feeding across the Early Years of Childhood," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(3), pages 251-277.
    12. Costanza Biavaschi & Corrado Giulietti & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2015. "Sibling Influence on the Human Capital of the Left-Behind," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(4), pages 403-438.
    13. Jason M. Fletcher, 2011. "Long‐term effects of health investments and parental favoritism: the case of breastfeeding," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(11), pages 1349-1361, November.
    14. Wehby, George L., 2014. "Breastfeeding and child disability: A comparison of siblings from the United States," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 15(C), pages 13-22.
    15. Rosales-Rueda, Maria, 2018. "The impact of early life shocks on human capital formation: evidence from El Niño floods in Ecuador," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 13-44.
    16. Bartling, Björn & Fehr, Ernst & Fischer, Barbara & Kosse, Fabian & Maréchal, Michel André, 2009. "Geduld von Vorschulkindern: Ergebnisse einer Experimentalstudie im Haushaltskontext von Kindern," ZEW Discussion Papers 09-069, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.

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