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Birth Order and Child Health

Author

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  • Björkegren, Evelina

    () (Department of Economics)

  • Svaledry, Helena

    () (Department of Economics)

Abstract

Previous research has established that birth order affects outcomes such as educational achievements, IQ and earnings. The mechanisms behind these effects are, however, still largely unknown. In this paper, we examine birth-order effects on health, and whether health at young age could be a transmission channel for birth-order effects observed later in life. We find no support for the birth-order effect having a biological origin; rather firstborns have worse health at birth. This disadvantage is reversed in early age and later-born siblings are more likely to be hospitalized for injuries and avoidable conditions, which could be related to less parental attention. In adolescence and as young adults, younger siblings are more likely to be of poor mental health and to be admitted to hospital for alcohol induced health conditions. We also critically test for reverse causality by estimating fertility responses to the health of existing children. We conclude that the effects on health are not severely biased; however, the large negative birth-order effects on infant mortality are partly due to endogenous fertility responses. Overall our results suggest that birth order effects are due to differential parental investment because parents’ time and resources are limited.

Suggested Citation

  • Björkegren, Evelina & Svaledry, Helena, 2017. "Birth Order and Child Health," Working Paper Series 2017:3, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:uunewp:2017_003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "The More the Merrier? The Effect of Family Size and Birth Order on Children's Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 669-700.
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    3. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2011. "Older and Wiser? Birth Order and IQ of Young Men," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 57(1), pages 103-120, March.
    4. Black, Sandra E. & Devereux, Paul J. & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2016. "Healthy(?), wealthy, and wise: Birth order and adult health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 27-45.
    5. Sandra E. Black & Sanni Breining & David N. Figlio & Jonathan Guryan & Krzysztof Karbownik & Helena Skyt Nielsen & Jeffrey Roth & Marianne Simonsen, 2017. "Sibling Spillovers," NBER Working Papers 23062, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Jee-Yeon K. Lehmann & Ana Nuevo-Chiquero & Marian Vidal-Fernandez, 2018. "The Early Origins of Birth Order Differences in Children’s Outcomes and Parental Behavior," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 53(1), pages 123-156.
    7. Janet Currie, 2009. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Socioeconomic Status, Poor Health in Childhood, and Human Capital Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(1), pages 87-122, March.
    8. V. Hotz & Juan Pantano, 2015. "Strategic parenting, birth order, and school performance," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 28(4), pages 911-936, October.
    9. Anne Ardila Brenøe & Ramona Molitor, 2015. "Birth Order and Health of Newborns: What Can We Learn from Danish Registry Data?," Working Papers 161, Bavarian Graduate Program in Economics (BGPE).
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    11. James P. Smith, 1999. "Healthy Bodies and Thick Wallets: The Dual Relation between Health and Economic Status," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 145-166, Spring.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ginja, Rita & Jans, Jenny & Karimi, Arizo, 2017. "Parental Investments in Early Life and Child Outcomes. Evidence from Swedish Parental Leave Rules," Working Papers in Economics 17/17, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
    2. Wanchuan Lin & Juan Pantano & Shuqiao Sun, 2020. "Birth order and unwanted fertility," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 33(2), pages 413-440, April.
    3. Taghizadeh, Jonas Larsson, 2020. "Are students in receiving schools hurt by the closing of low-Performing schools? Effects of school closures on receiving schools in Sweden 2000–2016," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
    4. Gerald J. Pruckner & Nicole Schneeweis & Thomas Schober & Martina Zweimüller, 2019. "Birth Order, Parental Health Investment, and Health in Childhood," CDL Aging, Health, Labor working papers 2019-01, The Christian Doppler (CD) Laboratory Aging, Health, and the Labor Market, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    5. Rita Ginja & Jenny Jans & Arizo Karimi, 2020. "Parental Leave Benefits, Household Labor Supply, and Children’s Long-Run Outcomes," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(1), pages 261-320.
    6. Anne Ardila Brenøe & Ramona Molitor, 2018. "Birth order and health of newborns," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 31(2), pages 363-395, April.
    7. Björkegren, Evelina, 2018. "Neighborhoods and youth health: Everybody needs good neighbors?," Working Paper Series 2018:10, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Birth order; child Health; parental behavior; endogenous fertility;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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