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Twin Birth and Maternal Condition

Author

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  • Bhalotra, Sonia R.

    () (University of Essex)

  • Clarke, Damian

    () (Universidad de 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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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Megan Beckett & Julie Da Vanzo & Narayan Sastry & Constantijn Panis & Christine Peterson, 2001. "The Quality of Retrospective Data: An Examination of Long-Term Recall in a Developing Country," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(3), pages 593-625.
    2. 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.
    3. Mark R. Rosenzweig & Junsen Zhang, 2009. "Do Population Control Policies Induce More Human Capital Investment? Twins, Birth Weight and China's "One-Child" Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(3), pages 1149-1174.
    4. Pietro Biroli, 2016. "Health and skill formation in early childhood," UBSCENTER - Working Papers 017, UBS International Center of Economics in Society - Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    5. Joshua Angrist & Victor Lavy & Analia Schlosser, 2010. "Multiple Experiments for the Causal Link between the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(4), pages 773-824, October.
    6. Cutler, David M. & Lleras-Muney, Adriana, 2010. "Understanding differences in health behaviors by education," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 1-28, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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).
    3. Anthony Lepinteur & Giorgia Menta, 2020. "Boys don't cry (or do the dishes): family size and the housework gender gap," CREA Discussion Paper Series 20-04, Center for Research in Economic Analysis, University of Luxembourg.
    4. 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.
    5. Öberg, Stefan, 2018. "Instrumental variables based on twin births are by definition not valid (v.3.0)," SocArXiv zux9s, Center for Open Science.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    parental investment; fertility; women's labor supply; miscarriage; twins; maternal health;

    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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