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Infant Health, Cognitive Performance and Earnings: Evidence from Inception of the Welfare State in Sweden

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  • Bhalotra, Sonia R.

    () (University of Essex)

  • Karlsson, Martin

    () (University of Duisburg-Essen)

  • Nilsson, Therese

    () (Lund University)

  • Schwarz, Nina

    () (University of Duisburg-Essen)

Abstract

We estimate impacts of exposure to an infant health intervention trialled in Sweden in the early 1930s using purposively digitised birth registers linked to school catalogues, census files and tax records to generate longitudinal microdata that track individuals through five stages of the life-course, from birth to age 71. This allows us to measure impacts on childhood health and cognitive skills at ages 7 and 10, educational and occupational choice at age 16-20, employment, earnings and occupation at age 36-40, and pension income at age 71. Leveraging quasi-random variation in eligibility by birth date and birth parish, we estimate that an additional year of exposure was associated with improved reading and writing skills in primary school, and increased enrolment in university and apprenticeship in late adolescence. These changes are larger and more robust for men, but we find increases in secondary school completion which are unique to women. In the longer run, we find very substantial increases in employment (especially in the public sector) and income among women, alongside absolutely no impacts among men. We suggest that this may be, at least in part, because these cohorts were exposed to a massive expansion of the Swedish welfare state, which created more jobs for women than for men.

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  • Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Karlsson, Martin & Nilsson, Therese & Schwarz, Nina, 2016. "Infant Health, Cognitive Performance and Earnings: Evidence from Inception of the Welfare State in Sweden," IZA Discussion Papers 10339, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10339
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    Cited by:

    1. Serratos-Sotelo, Luis & Bengtsson, Tommy & Nilsson, Anton, 2019. "The long-term economic effects of polio: Evidence from the introduction of the polio vaccine to Sweden in 1957," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 32-41.
    2. Heckley, Gawain & Fischer , Martin & Gerdtham, Ulf-G. & Karlsson , Martin & Kjellsson, Gustav & Nilsson, Therese, 2018. "The Long-Term Impact of Education on Mortality and Health: Evidence from Sweden," Working Papers 2018:8, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    3. Fischer, Martin & Gerdtham, Ulf-G & Heckley, Gawain & Karlsson, Martin & Kjellsson, Gustav & Nilsson, Therese, 2019. "Education and Health: Long-run Effects of Peers, Tracking and Years," Working Paper Series 1300, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    4. Norman Bannenberg & Oddvar Førland & Tor Iversen & Martin Karlsson & Henning Øien, 2019. "Preventive Home Visits," CINCH Working Paper Series 1907, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    occupational choice; earnings; education; cognitive skills; early life interventions; infant health; programme evaluation; Sweden;

    JEL classification:

    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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