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Birth weight and long-term outcomes in a developing country

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  • Baguet, Marie
  • Dumas, Christelle

Abstract

This paper analyzes the empirical relationship between endowment at birth and long-term outcomes. Birth weight has been shown to influence outcomes later in life, suggesting that in-utero shocks have long lasting consequences. However, traditional measures of human capital at birth (i.e. birth weight) are potentially measured with error and endogenous. We deal with such issues thanks to the use of a long panel of children born in 1983 in Cebu (Philippines) and interviewed repeatedly until 2005. Our contribution is threefold. First, we build a refined health endowment measure netted out from prenatal investments. Our results show that the usual estimate of birth weight exceeds by 50\% the true causal effect of birth weight on later outcomes. Second, initial endowments affect trajectories both through the human capital production function and parental investment. The effect of birth endowment fades out over time but remains until adulthood. The fading out is very limited for health outcomes but more pronounced for educational outcomes. Finally, we find that parents tend to reinforce initial health endowments, but the effect of this behavior has almost no effect on final outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Baguet, Marie & Dumas, Christelle, 2015. "Birth weight and long-term outcomes in a developing country," FSES Working Papers 465, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, University of Freiburg/Fribourg Switzerland.
  • Handle: RePEc:fri:fribow:fribow00465
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jonna P. Estudillo & JAgnes R. Quisumbing & JoKeijiro Otsuka, 2001. "Gender Differences in Land Inheritance and Schooling Investments in the Rural Philippines," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 77(1), pages 130-143.
    2. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1994. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," NBER Chapters, in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education, Third Edition, pages 257-298, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Bhalotra, Sonia & Clarke, Damian, 2016. "The twin instrument," ISER Working Paper Series 2016-17, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    4. Bharadwaj, Prashant & Eberhard, Juan & Neilson, Christopher, 2010. "Do Initial Endowments Matter Only Initially? The Persistent Effect of Birth Weight on School Achievement," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt4536p0hd, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    human capital investment; health; inequality; endowments; Philippines;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

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