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Low birth weight and health expenditures from birth to late adolescence

  • Michael Hummer
  • Thomas Lehner

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria)

  • Gerald J. Pruckner

Using administrative panel data of health insurants, we estimate the effects of low birth weight on health service utilization among children and young adults between birth and 21 years old. To account for time-invariant heterogeneity of mothers, we use sibling fixed- effects estimation. We find that low birth weight strongly increases subsequent health expenditures and that the effect is particularly pronounced in the first year of life. Starting in compulsory schooling, we observe a shift in expenditures to mental-health problems. Whereas the effects on physical health disappear over time, we provide evidence that mental-health problems prevail until early adulthood. We therefore suggest a screening program tailored to the conditions more likely to be contracted by low-birth-weight children in order to mitigate the negative health consequences.

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Paper provided by The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria in its series NRN working papers with number 2012-05.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: May 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:jku:nrnwps:2012_05
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  1. Janet Currie, 2009. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Socioeconomic Status, Poor Health in Childhood, and Human Capital Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(1), pages 87-122, March.
  2. Philip Oreopoulos & Mark Stabile & Randy Walld & Leslie L. Roos, 2008. "Short-, Medium-, and Long-Term Consequences of Poor Infant Health: An Analysis Using Siblings and Twins," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(1).
  3. Heather Royer, 2009. "Separated at Girth: US Twin Estimates of the Effects of Birth Weight," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 49-85, January.
  4. Heckman, James J. & Moon, Seong Hyeok & Pinto, Rodrigo & Savelyev, Peter A. & Yavitz, Adam, 2010. "The rate of return to the HighScope Perry Preschool Program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 114-128, February.
  5. Black, Sandra E. & Devereux, Paul J. & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2005. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 1864, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Janet Currie & Mark Stabile & Phongsack Manivong & Leslie L. Roos, 2008. "Child Health and Young Adult Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 14482, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. James J. Heckman & Seong Hyeok Moon & Rodrigo Pinto & Peter A. Savelyev & Adam Yavitz, 2010. "Analyzing Social Experiments as Implemented: A Reexamination of the Evidence From the HighScope Perry Preschool Program," NBER Working Papers 16238, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie, 2011. "Killing Me Softly: The Fetal Origins Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 153-72, Summer.
  9. Conley, Dalton & Strully, Kate W. & Bennett, Neil G., 2006. "Twin differences in birth weight: The effects of genotype and prenatal environment on neonatal and post-neonatal mortality," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 151-183, June.
  10. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2004. "Returns to Birthweight," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 586-601, May.
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