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Twin Birth and Maternal Condition

Author

Listed:
  • Bhalotra, Sonia R.

    () (University of Essex)

  • Clarke, Damian

    () (Universidad de Santiago 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 for the Study of Labor (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. 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.
    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.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    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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