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Birth weight and the dynamics of early cognitive and behavioural development

  • Del Bono, Emilia
  • Ermisch, John

In this paper we explore the impact of birth weight on children's cognitive and behavioural outcomes using data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study. In order to deal with the endogeneity of birth weight we propose an eliminant estimator, which exploits the availability of multiple outcomes for the same individual at the same point in time. The results show that birth weight has significant but very small effects on male cognitive development at age 3 and on female cognitive and behavioural outcomes at age 3. We also find that birth weight affects age 5 outcomes only through previous achievements, and that the overall impact fades out over time. These findings call into question the effectiveness of birth weight as a policy target.

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Paper provided by Institute for Social and Economic Research in its series ISER Working Paper Series with number 2009-16.

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Date of creation: 14 May 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published
Handle: RePEc:ese:iserwp:2009-16
Contact details of provider: Postal: Publications Office, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ UK
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  1. Heather Royer, 2009. "Separated at Girth: US Twin Estimates of the Effects of Birth Weight," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 49-85, January.
  2. Hope Corman & Theodore J. Joyce & Michael Grossman, 1985. "Birth Outcome Production Functions in the U.S," NBER Working Papers 1729, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. James Heckman & Flavio Cunha, 2007. "The Technology of Skill Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 31-47, May.
  4. In Utero, 2006. "Is the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Over? Long-Term Effects of In Utero Influenza Exposure in the Post-1940 U.S. Population," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(4), pages 672-712, August.
  5. Michael Baker & Kevin S. Milligan, 2007. "Maternal employment, breastfeeding, and health: Evidence from maternity leave mandates," NBER Working Papers 13188, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. John Ermisch, 2008. "Origins of Social Immobility and Inequality: Parenting and Early Child Development," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 205(1), pages 62-71, July.
  7. Michael Grossman & Theodore J. Joyce, 1988. "Unobservables, Pregnancy Resolutions, and Birthweight Production Functions in New York City," NBER Working Papers 2746, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Mark R. Rosenzweig & T. Paul Schultz, 1988. "The Stability of Household Production Technology: A Replication," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(4), pages 535-549.
  9. Phil Oreopoulos & Mark Stabile & Randy Walld & Leslie Roos, 2006. "Short, Medium, and Long Term Consequences of Poor Infant Health: An Analysis using Siblings and Twins," NBER Working Papers 11998, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Wolpin, Kenneth I., 1991. "Inequality at birth : The scope for policy intervention," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1-2), pages 205-228, October.
  11. 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..
  12. del Bono, Emilia & Ermisch, John F & Francesconi, Marco, 2008. "Intrafamily Resource Allocations: A Dynamic Model of Birth Weight," CEPR Discussion Papers 6970, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2003. "On The Specification and Estimation of The Production Function for Cognitive Achievement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages F3-F33, February.
  14. 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.
  15. 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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