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Twin Birth and Maternal Condition

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  • Bhalotra, Sonia R.

    (University of Warwick)

  • Clarke, Damian

    (University of Chile)

Abstract

Twin births are often construed as a natural experiment in the social and natural sciences on the premise that the occurrence of twins is quasi-random. We present new population-level evidence that challenges this premise. Using individual data for 17 million births in 72 countries, we demonstrate that indicators of mother's health and health-related behaviours are systematically positively associated with the probability of a twin birth. The estimated associations are sizeable, evident in richer and poorer countries, evident even among women who do not use IVF, and hold for numerous different measures of health. We discuss potential mechanisms, showing evidence that favours selective miscarriage. Positive selection of women into twinning implies that estimates of impacts of fertility on parental investments and on women's labour supply that use twin births to instrument fertility will tend to be downward biased. This is pertinent given the emerging consensus that these relationships are weak. Our findings also potentially challenge the external validity of studies that rely upon twin differences.

Suggested Citation

  • Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Clarke, Damian, 2018. "Twin Birth and Maternal Condition," IZA Discussion Papers 11742, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11742
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    Cited by:

    1. Sanz-de-Galdeano, Anna & Terskaya, Anastasia, 2019. "Sibling Differences in Educational Polygenic Scores: How Do Parents React?," IZA Discussion Papers 12375, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Peter Savelyev & Benjamin Ward & Bob Krueger & Matthew McGue, 2020. "Health Endowments, Schooling Allocation in the Family, and Longevity: Evidence from US Twins," Working Papers 2020-040, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    3. Damian Clarke & Manuel Llorca Ja~na & Daniel Paila~nir, 2021. "The Use of Quantile Methods in Economic History," Papers 2108.06055, arXiv.org.
    4. Menta, Giorgia & Lepinteur, Anthony, 2021. "Boys don’t cry (or do the dishes): Family size and the housework gender gap," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 186(C), pages 164-188.
    5. Plamen Nikolov & Hongjian Wang & Kevin Acker, 2020. "Wage premium of Communist Party membership: Evidence from China," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(3), pages 309-338, August.
    6. Öberg, Stefan, 2018. "Instrumental variables based on twin births are by definition not valid (v.3.0)," SocArXiv zux9s, Center for Open Science.
    7. Cuong Nguyen & Anh Tran, 2020. "Are children an incentive or a disincentive for migration? Evidence from Vietnam," Economics of Transition and Institutional Change, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 28(3), pages 467-485, July.
    8. Damian Clarke & Gustavo Cortés Méndez & Diego Vergara Sepúlveda, 2020. "Growing together: assessing equity and efficiency in a prenatal health program," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 33(3), pages 883-956, July.
    9. Chu, Yu-Wei Luke & Cuffe, Harold E & Doan, Nguyen, 2021. "Motherhood Employment Penalty and Gender Wage Gap Across Countries: 1990–2010," Working Paper Series 9446, Victoria University of Wellington, School of Economics and Finance.
    10. Anna Baranowska-Rataj & Kieron J. Barclay & Joan Costa-Font & Mikko Myrskylä & Berkay Özcan, 2019. "Preterm births and educational disadvantage: heterogeneous effects across families and schools," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2019-016, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    11. Sonia Bhalotra & Damian Clarke & Joseph F. Gomes & Atheendar Venkataramani, 2021. "Maternal Mortality and Women’s Political Power," LIDAM Discussion Papers IRES 2021010, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    parental investment; fertility; women's labor supply; miscarriage; twins; maternal health;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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