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Biology as Destiny? Short- and Long-Run Determinants of Intergenerational Transmission of Birth Weight

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  • Janet Currie
  • Enrico Moretti

Abstract

We use a unique data set of California births to ask whether intergenerational correlations in health contribute to the perpetuation of economic status. We find that if a mother was low birth weight, her child is significantly more likely to be low birth weight, even when we compare mothers who are sisters. Second, the intergenerational transmission of low birth weight is stronger for mothers in high poverty zip codes. Third, low birth weight affects proxies for later socioeconomic status. Fourth, these effects are stronger for women born in high poverty zip codes.

Suggested Citation

  • Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2007. "Biology as Destiny? Short- and Long-Run Determinants of Intergenerational Transmission of Birth Weight," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 231-264.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:v:25:y:2007:p:231-264
    DOI: 10.1086/511377
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    1. Eriksson, Tor & Bratsberg, Bernt & Raaum, Oddbjørn, 2005. "Earnings persistence across generations: Transmission through health?," Memorandum 35/2005, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    2. James P. Smith, 2005. "The Impact Of Ses On Health Over The Life-Course," Labor and Demography 0511002, EconWPA.
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    4. Solon, Gary, 1999. "Intergenerational mobility in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 29, pages 1761-1800 Elsevier.
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    6. 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.
    7. Currie, Janet & Madrian, Brigitte C., 1999. "Health, health insurance and the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 50, pages 3309-3416 Elsevier.
    8. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Erik Hurst, 2003. "The Correlation of Wealth across Generations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(6), pages 1155-1182, December.
    9. Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2003. "Mother's Education and the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital: Evidence from College Openings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1495-1532.
    10. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Fogel, Robert W, 1994. "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 369-395, June.
    12. Grossman, Michael, 2000. "The human capital model," Handbook of Health Economics,in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 347-408 Elsevier.
    13. James P. Smith, 2005. "The Impact Of Ses On Health Over The Life-Course," Labor and Demography 0511002, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. 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.
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    16. 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.
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    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health

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