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Wealth Disparities for Early Childhood Anthropometrics and Skills: Evidence from Chilean Longitudinal Data


  • Jere R. Behrman

    () (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Dante Contreras

    () (Department of Economics, University of Chile)

  • Isidora Palma

    (Department of Economics, University of Chile)

  • Esteban Puentes

    () (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)


We study wealth disparities in the formation of anthropometrics, cognitive skills and socio-emotional skills. We use a sample of preschool and early school children in Chile. We extend the previous literature by using longitudinal data, which allow us to study the dynamics of child growth and skills formation. Also, we include information on mother's and father's schooling attainment and mother's cognitive ability. We find that there are no significant anthropometric differences favoring the better-off at birth (and indeed length differences at birth to the disadvantage of the better-off), but during the first 30 months of life wealth disparities in height-for-age z scores (HAZ) favoring the better-off emerge. Moreover, we find wealth disparities in cognitive skills favoring the better-off emerge early in life and continue after children turn 6 years of age. We find no concurrent wealth disparities for and socio-emotional skills. Thus, even though the wealth disparities in birth outcomes if anything favor the poor, significant disparities favoring the rich emerge in the early post-natal period. Mother's education and cognitive ability also are significantly associated with disparities in skill formation.

Suggested Citation

  • Jere R. Behrman & Dante Contreras & Isidora Palma & Esteban Puentes, 2017. "Wealth Disparities for Early Childhood Anthropometrics and Skills: Evidence from Chilean Longitudinal Data," PIER Working Paper Archive 17-019, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 28 Sep 2017.
  • Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:17-019

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christina Paxson & Norbert Schady, 2007. "Cognitive Development among Young Children in Ecuador: The Roles of Wealth, Health, and Parenting," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(1).
    2. John A. Maluccio & John Hoddinott & Jere R. Behrman & Reynaldo Martorell & Agnes R. Quisumbing & Aryeh D. Stein, 2009. "The Impact of Improving Nutrition During Early Childhood on Education among Guatemalan Adults," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(537), pages 734-763, April.
    3. Subha Mani, 2012. "Is there Complete, Partial, or No Recovery from Childhood Malnutrition? – Empirical Evidence from Indonesia," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 74(5), pages 691-715, October.
    4. Contreras, Dante & González, Stephanie, 2015. "Determinants of early child development in Chile: Health, cognitive and demographic factors," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 217-230.
    5. 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.
    6. Majid, Muhammad Farhan, 2015. "The persistent effects of in utero nutrition shocks over the life cycle: Evidence from Ramadan fasting," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 48-57.
    7. Dante Contreras & Esteban Puentes, 2017. "Inequality of Opportunities at Early Ages: Evidence from Chile," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 53(10), pages 1748-1764, October.
    8. Xiaoying Liu & Jere R Behrman & Aryeh D Stein & Linda S Adair & Santosh K Bhargava & Judith B Borja & Mariangela Freitas da Silveira & Bernardo L Horta & Reynaldo Martorell & Shane A Norris & Linda M , 2017. "Prenatal care and child growth and schooling in four low- and medium-income countries," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 12(2), pages 1-21, February.
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    1. Wealth Disparities for Early Childhood Anthropometrics and Skills: Evidence from Chilean Longitudinal Data
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2019-04-01 18:19:13

    More about this item


    Wealth disparities; anthropometrics; cognitive skills; socio-emotional skills;

    JEL classification:

    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General

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