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Child height, health and human capital: evidence using genetic markers

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  • Stephanie von Hinke Kessler Scholder
  • George Davey Smith
  • Debbie A. Lawlor
  • Carol Propper
  • Frank Windmeijer

    ()

Abstract

Height has long been recognised as associated with better outcomes: the question is whether this association is causal. We use children’s genetic variants as instrumental variables (IV) to deal with possible unobserved confounders and examine the effect of child and adolescent height on a wide range of outcomes: academic performance, IQ, self-esteem, symptoms related to depression and behavioural problems, including hyperactivity, emotional, conduct and peer problems. OLS findings show that taller children have higher IQ scores, perform better in school tests, and are less likely to have emotional or peer problems. The IV results differ. They show that taller children have better cognitive performance but, in contrast to the OLS, indicate that taller children are more likely to have behavioural problems. The magnitude of these IV estimates is large. For example, the effect of one standard deviation increase in height on IQ is comparable to the IQ difference for children born approximately 6 months apart within the same school year, while the increase in hyperactivity is comparable to the raw difference in hyperactivity between boys and girls.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephanie von Hinke Kessler Scholder & George Davey Smith & Debbie A. Lawlor & Carol Propper & Frank Windmeijer, 2010. "Child height, health and human capital: evidence using genetic markers," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 10/245, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  • Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:10/245
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Stephanie Hinke Kessler Scholder & George L. Wehby & Sarah Lewis & Luisa Zuccolo, 2014. "Alcohol Exposure In Utero and Child Academic Achievement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0(576), pages 634-667, May.
    2. von Hinke, Stephanie & Davey Smith, George & Lawlor, Debbie A. & Propper, Carol & Windmeijer, Frank, 2016. "Genetic markers as instrumental variables," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 131-148.
    3. von Hinke Kessler Scholder, Stephanie & Davey Smith, George & Lawlor, Debbie A. & Propper, Carol & Windmeijer, Frank, 2012. "The effect of fat mass on educational attainment: Examining the sensitivity to different identification strategies," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 405-418.
    4. Padraig Dixon & George Davey Smith & Stephanie von Hinke & Neil M. Davies & William Hollingworth, 2016. "Estimating Marginal Healthcare Costs Using Genetic Variants as Instrumental Variables: Mendelian Randomization in Economic Evaluation," PharmacoEconomics, Springer, vol. 34(11), pages 1075-1086, November.
    5. Guven, Cahit & Lee, Wang-Sheng, 2015. "Height, aging and cognitive abilities across Europe," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 16(C), pages 16-29.
    6. Simon Lange & Marten von Werder, 2016. "Tracking and the Intergenerational Transmission of Education: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 880, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    7. Dawid Philip & Didelez Vanessa, 2012. ""Imagine a Can Opener"--The Magic of Principal Stratum Analysis," The International Journal of Biostatistics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-12, July.
    8. Böckerman, Petri & Viinikainen, Jutta & Vainiomäki, Jari & Hintsanen, Mirka & Pitkänen, Niina & Lehtimäki, Terho & Pehkonen, Jaakko & Rovio, Suvi & Raitakari, Olli, 2017. "Stature and long-term labor market outcomes: Evidence using Mendelian randomization," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 18-29.
    9. Lee, Wang-Sheng, 2014. "Big and Tall: Is there a Height Premium or Obesity Penalty in the Labor Market?," IZA Discussion Papers 8606, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Fang, Muriel Zheng, 2014. "Violating the Monotonicity condition for instrumental variable—Dimorphic patterns of gene–behavior association," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 59-63.
    11. Ludwig, Markus, 2013. "Youth Bulge and Mid-Life Moderation: Large Cohort Size Effects, Economic Perspectives and Civil Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa," MPRA Paper 53088, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    Keywords

    Child and adolescent height; human capital; mental health; behavioural outcomes; instrumental variables; Mendelian randomization; genetic variants; ALSPAC;

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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