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The Effect of Breastfeeding on Children's Cognitive and Noncognitive Development

  • Borra, Cristina

    ()

    (University of Seville)

  • Iacovou, Maria

    ()

    (University of Cambridge)

  • Sevilla, Almudena

    ()

    (Queen Mary, University of London)

This paper uses propensity score matching methods to investigate the relationship between breastfeeding and children's cognitive and noncognitive development. We find that breastfeeding for four weeks is positively and statistically significantly associated with higher cognitive test scores, by around one tenth of a standard deviation. The association between breastfeeding and noncognitive development is weaker, and is restricted to children of less educated mothers. We conclude that interventions which increase breastfeeding rates would improve not only children's health, but also their cognitive skills, and possibly also their noncognitive development.

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp6697.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6697.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Labour Economics, 2012, 19(4), 496-515.
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6697
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  1. Clive Belfield & Inas Kelly, 2013. "The Benefits of Breastfeeding Across the Early Years of Childhood," Working Papers id:5430, eSocialSciences.
  2. David Johnston & Carol Propper & Stephen Pudney & Michael Shields, 2011. "Child Mental Health and Educational Attainment: Multiple Observers and the Measurement Error Problem," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 11/264, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  3. Heckman, J.J. & Hotz, V.J., 1988. "Choosing Among Alternative Nonexperimental Methods For Estimating The Impact Of Social Programs: The Case Of Manpower Training," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 88-12, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  4. Ichino, Andrea & Mealli, Fabrizia & Nannicini, Tommaso, 2006. "From Temporary Help Jobs to Permanent Employment: What Can We Learn from Matching Estimators and their Sensitivity?," IZA Discussion Papers 2149, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J., 2007. "The Evolution of Inequality, Heterogeneity and Uncertainty in Labor Earnings in the U.S. Economy," IZA Discussion Papers 3115, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Michela Bia & Alessandra Mattei, 2008. "A Stata package for the estimation of the dose–response function through adjustment for the generalized propensity score," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 8(3), pages 354-373, September.
  7. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Schennach, Susanne, 2010. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 4702, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Daniel I. Rees & Joseph J. Sabia, 2009. "The Effect of Breast Feeding on Educational Attainment: Evidence from Sibling Data," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 43-72.
  9. Rajeev H. Dehejia & Sadek Wahba, 2002. "Propensity Score-Matching Methods For Nonexperimental Causal Studies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 151-161, February.
  10. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman, 2008. "Formulating, Identifying and Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
  11. Zhao, Zhong, 2005. "Sensitivity of Propensity Score Methods to the Specifications," IZA Discussion Papers 1873, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M. & Imbens, Guido, 2009. "Recent Developments in the Econometrics of Program Evaluation," Scholarly Articles 3043416, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. McCrory, Cathal & Layte, Richard, 2011. "The effect of breastfeeding on children's educational test scores at nine years of age: Results of an Irish cohort study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(9), pages 1515-1521, May.
  14. Tommaso Nannicini, 2006. "A Simulation-Based Sensitivity Analysis for Matching Estimators," North American Stata Users' Group Meetings 2006 6, Stata Users Group.
  15. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Baker, Michael & Milligan, Kevin, 2008. "Maternal employment, breastfeeding, and health: Evidence from maternity leave mandates," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 871-887, July.
  17. Kevin Denny & Orla Doyle, 2010. "The causal effect of breastfeeding on children’s cognitive development: A quasi-experimental design," Working Papers 201005, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
  18. Sascha O. Becker & Andrea Ichino, 2002. "Estimation of average treatment effects based on propensity scores," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 2(4), pages 358-377, November.
  19. Leon Feinstein, 2003. "Inequality in the Early Cognitive Development of British Children in the 1970 Cohort," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 70(277), pages 73-97, February.
  20. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman, 2010. "Investing in Our Young People," NBER Working Papers 16201, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Heckman, James J & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Todd, Petra E, 1997. "Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 605-54, October.
  22. Edwin Leuven & Barbara Sianesi, 2003. "PSMATCH2: Stata module to perform full Mahalanobis and propensity score matching, common support graphing, and covariate imbalance testing," Statistical Software Components S432001, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 19 Jan 2015.
  23. Reilly, Siobhan & Evenhouse, Eirik, 2005. "Improved estimates of the benefits of breastfeeding using sibling comparisons to reduce selection bias," MPRA Paper 13434, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  24. Paul Gregg & Elizabeth Washbrook & Carol Propper & Simon Burgess, 2005. "The Effects of a Mother's Return to Work Decision on Child Development in the UK," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(501), pages F48-F80, 02.
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