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Birth weight and family status revisited: evidence from Austrian register data

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  • Wolfgang Frimmel
  • Gerald J. Pruckner

Abstract

In this paper, we study the socio-economic determinants of birth weight with a focus on the mother’s family status. We use Austrian birth register data covering all births between 1984 and 2007 and find that a mother’s marriage is associated with a higher birth weight of the newborn in a range between 4 and 6 dekagrams. This result remains stable if we control for time-invariant unobserved mother heterogeneity. A divorce around pregnancy results in birth weight 2 to 8 dekagrams lower as compared to that of newborn babies of single mothers. The family status effects in the 2000s are stronger as they were in the 1980s. A quantile regression suggests that family effects are more pronounced at the lower quantiles of the birth weight distribution and diminish at higher percentiles. Finally, in accordance with several instrumental variable (IV) studies, we find that the significantly positive impact of family status on children’s health outcomes disappears if we confine our sample to mothers, who are below the age of 22 years. We conclude that social and financial stress may have an important influence on the birth weight of newborns, especially at the lower tail of the birth weight distribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Wolfgang Frimmel & Gerald J. Pruckner, 2011. "Birth weight and family status revisited: evidence from Austrian register data," NRN working papers 2011-18, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  • Handle: RePEc:jku:nrnwps:2011_18
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Hope Corman & Dhaval M. Dave & Nancy E. Reichman, 2017. "Evolution of the Infant Health Production Function," NBER Working Papers 24131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Wolfgang Frimmel & Martin Halla & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2014. "Can Pro-Marriage Policies Work? An Analysis of Marginal Marriages," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(4), pages 1357-1379, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Low birth weight; family status; newborn health; fixed-effects estimations;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • 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
    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models

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