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Fetal origins and parental responses

  • Douglas Almond
  • Bhashkar Mazumder

We review the literature on how parental investments respond to health endowments at birth. Recent studies have combined insights from an earlier theoretical literature on how households allocate resources within the family, with a growing empirical literature that identifies early life health shocks using sharp research designs. We describe the econometric challenges in identifying the behavioral responses of parents and how recent studies have sought to address these challenges. We also discuss the emerging literature that has considered how there may be dynamic complementarities in parental investments due to the developmental nature of human capital production and how there may be multiple dimensions of skill. We find that thus far, the bulk of the empirical evidence is consistent with the notion that parents reinforce initial endowments.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-2012-14.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-2012-14
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  1. Alexander M. Gelber & Adam Isen, 2011. "Children's Schooling and Parents' Investment in Children: Evidence from the Head Start Impact Study," NBER Working Papers 17704, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Achyuta Adhvaryu & Anant Nyshadham, 2011. "Endowments and Investment within the Household: Evidence from Iodine Supplementation in Tanzania," Working Papers 998, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  3. Erica Field & Omar Robles & Maximo Torero, 2009. "Iodine Deficiency and Schooling Attainment in Tanzania," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(4), pages 140-69, October.
  4. James Heckman & Flavio Cunha, 2007. "The Technology of Skill Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 31-47, May.
  5. Venkataramani, Atheendar S., 2012. "Early life exposure to malaria and cognition in adulthood: Evidence from Mexico," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 767-780.
  6. Douglas Almond & Lena Edlund & Mårten Palme, 2009. "Chernobyl's Subclinical Legacy: Prenatal Exposure to Radioactive Fallout and School Outcomes in Sweden," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1729-1772, November.
  7. Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Zhang, Junsen, 2006. "Do Population Control Policies Induce More Human Capital Investment? Twins, Birthweight, and China's 'One Child' Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 2082, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Bharadwaj, Prashant & Loken, Katrine Vellesen & Neilson, Christopher, 2012. "Early Life Health Interventions and Academic Achievement," IZA Discussion Papers 6864, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Emilia Del Bono & John Ermisch & Marco Francesconi, 2012. "Intrafamily Resource Allocations: A Dynamic Structural Model of Birth Weight," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(3), pages 657 - 706.
  10. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1976. "Child Endowments and the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages S143-62, August.
  11. Akresh, Richard & Bagby, Emilie & de Walque, Damien & Kazianga, Harounan, 2012. "Child labor, schooling, and child ability," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5965, The World Bank.
  12. Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Wolpin, Kenneth I., 1984. "Heterogeneity, Intrafamily Distribution and Child Health," Bulletins 8429, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.
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