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Birth Weight And Family Status Revisited: Evidence From Austrian Register Data

Listed author(s):
  • Wolfgang Frimmel
  • Gerald J. Pruckner

ABSTRACT In this paper, we study the socio‐economic determinants of birth weight, with a focus on the mother's family status. We use Austrian birth register data covering all births between 1984 and 2007 and find that a mother's marriage is associated with a higher birth weight of the newborn, in the range of 40 to 60 g. The significant impact is retained if we include mother fixed effects or use an instrumental variable approach to account for unobserved mother heterogeneity. However, the magnitude of the causal effect (37 g) clearly indicates the importance of selection into marriage. Divorce around pregnancy results in significantly lower birth weights than the birth weights of babies born to single mothers. Family status effects in the 2000s are stronger than they were in the 1980s, and quantile regressions suggest that family effects are more pronounced at the lower quantiles of the birth weight distribution and less pronounced at higher quantiles. We conclude that the life situation of expectant mothers has an important influence on the birth weight of newborns, especially at the lower tail of the birth weight distribution. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 23 (2014)
Issue (Month): 4 (April)
Pages: 426-445

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Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:23:y:2014:i:4:p:426-445
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/5749

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  1. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
  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. Gordon Dahl, 2010. "Early teen marriage and future poverty," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 47(3), pages 689-718, August.
  5. Sabatini, Fabio, 2014. "The relationship between happiness and health: Evidence from Italy," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 178-187.
  6. Ribar, David C., 2004. "What Do Social Scientists Know About the Benefits of Marriage? A Review of Quantitative Methodologies," IZA Discussion Papers 998, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Abrevaya, Jason & Dahl, Christian M, 2008. "The Effects of Birth Inputs on Birthweight," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 26, pages 379-397.
  8. Koenker,Roger, 2005. "Quantile Regression," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521845731, March.
  9. Joyce, Theodore, 1999. "Impact of augmented prenatal care on birth outcomes of Medicaid recipients in New York City," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 31-67, January.
  10. Case, Anne & Fertig, Angela & Paxson, Christina, 2005. "The lasting impact of childhood health and circumstance," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 365-389, March.
  11. Jason Abrevaya, 2001. "The effects of demographics and maternal behavior on the distribution of birth outcomes," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 247-257.
  12. Bruce Chapman & Cahit Guven, 2010. "Marital Status is Misunderstood in Happiness Models," Economics Series 2010_03, Deakin University, Faculty of Business and Law, School of Accounting, Economics and Finance.
  13. Greg Duncan & Bessie Wilkerson & Paula England, 2006. "Cleaning up their act: The effects of marriage and cohabitation on licit and illicit drug use," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 43(4), pages 691-710, November.
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