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From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes

  • Sandra E. Black
  • Paul Devereux
  • Kjell Salvanes

Lower birth weight babies have worse outcomes, both short-run in terms of one year mortality rates and longer run in terms of educational attainment and earnings. However, recent research has called into question whether birth weight itself is important or whether it simply reflects other hard-to-measure haracteristics. By applying within twin techniques using a unique dataset from Norway, we xamine both short-run and long-run outcomes for the same cohorts. We find that birth weight does matter; very small short-run fixed effect estimates can be misleading because longer-run effects on outcomes such as height, IQ, earnings, and education are significant and similar in magnitude to OLS estimates. Our estimates suggest that eliminating birth weight differences between socio-economic groups would have sizeable effects on the later outcomes of children from poorer families.

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File URL: http://cee.lse.ac.uk/ceedps/ceedp61.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE in its series CEE Discussion Papers with number 0061.

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Date of creation: Mar 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cep:ceedps:0061
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cee.lse.ac.uk/publications.htm

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  1. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2006. "From the cradle to the labor market? The effect of birth weight on adult outcomes," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19425, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Anne Case & Angela Fertig & Christina Paxson, 2004. "The Lasting Impact of Childhood Health and Circumstance," Working Papers 246, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  3. Strauss, J. & Thomas, D., 1995. "Health, Nutrition and Economic development," Papers 95-23, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  4. Janet Currie & Enrico Moreti, 2005. "Biology As Destiny? Short And Long-Run Determinants Of Intergenerational Transmission Of Birth Weight," Working Papers id:194, eSocialSciences.
  5. Ashlesha Datar & M. Rebecca Kilburn & David S. Loughran, 2006. "Health Endowments and Parental Investments in Infancy and Early Childhood," Working Papers 367, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  6. Janet Currie & Rosemary Hyson, 1999. "Is the Impact of Health Shocks Cushioned by Socioeconomic Status? The Case of Low Birthweight," NBER Working Papers 6999, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. S Black & Paul Devereux & Kjell Salvanes, 2005. "The More the Merrier? The Effect of Family Size and Birth Order on Childrens Education," CEE Discussion Papers 0050, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  8. Douglas Almond & Kenneth Y. Chay & David S. Lee, 2004. "The Costs of Low Birth Weight," NBER Working Papers 10552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Sandra Black & Paul Devereux & Kjell Salvanes, 2004. "Why the apple doesn't fall far: understanding intergenerational transmission of human capital," Working Paper Series 2004-12, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  10. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2004. "Returns to Birthweight," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 586-601, May.
  11. Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2003. "Mother'S Education And The Intergenerational Transmission Of Human Capital: Evidence From College Openings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1495-1532, November.
  12. Currie, Janet & Gruber, Jonathan, 1996. "Saving Babies: The Efficacy and Cost of Recent Changes in the Medicaid Eligibility of Pregnant Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1263-96, December.
  13. Conley, Dalton & Strully, Kate W. & Bennett, Neil G., 2006. "Twin differences in birth weight: The effects of genotype and prenatal environment on neonatal and post-neonatal mortality," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 151-183, June.
  14. David S. Loughran & Ashlesha Datar & M. Rebecca Kilburn, 2004. "The Interactive Effect of Birth Weight and Parental Investment on Child Test Scores," Working Papers 168, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
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