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How Much Does Birth Weight Matter for Child Health in Developing Countries? Estimates from Siblings and Twins

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  • McGovern, Mark E.

Abstract

200 million children globally do not meet their potential for growth, and suffer the consequences in terms of future health, education and earnings. There is a well-established literature on the effects of in utero environment on later health in the US and Europe; however, there is less research on the most at risk populations in developing countries. This paper provides evidence on the effects of birth weight on subsequent health using information on over a million children in 72 countries from the Demographic and Health Surveys. I account for missing data and measurement error using instrumental variables, and also adopt an identification strategy based on sibling and twin models to control for potential omitted variable bias. I find a consistent effect of birth weight on risk of death, stunting, wasting, and coughing, with some evidence for fever, diarrhoea and anaemia. Results imply that focusing solely on reducing mortality, and not on improving infant health more broadly, may be missing the opportunity to build the health capital and life chances of those affected. Investments in the status and health of women are likely to have long run returns in terms of the health and productivity of their children.

Suggested Citation

  • McGovern, Mark E., 2014. "How Much Does Birth Weight Matter for Child Health in Developing Countries? Estimates from Siblings and Twins," Working Paper 143921, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  • Handle: RePEc:qsh:wpaper:143921
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    1. How Much Does Birth Weight Matter for Child Health in Developing Countries? Estimates from Siblings and Twins
      by Mark McGovern in Economics, Psychology and Policy on 2014-02-03 22:58:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Clarke, Damian, 2022. "Analysis of Twins," IZA Discussion Papers 15609, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Savelyev, Peter A. & Ward, Benjamin C. & Krueger, Robert F. & McGue, Matt, 2022. "Health endowments, schooling allocation in the family, and longevity: Evidence from US twins," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(C).
    3. Choi, Jin-young & Lee, Myoung-jae, 2019. "Twins are more different than commonly believed, but made less different by compensating behaviors," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 18-31.
    4. Weihui Zhang & Tse-Chuan Yang, 2021. "Maternal Smoking and Infant Low Birth Weight: Exploring the Biological Mechanism Through the Mother’s Pre-pregnancy Weight Status," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 40(2), pages 211-229, April.
    5. McGovern, Mark E., 2014. "Comparing the relationship between stature and later life health in six low and middle income countries," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 4(C), pages 128-148.
    6. Bladimir Carrillo & Jose G. Feres, 2018. "The Short-Tem Impacts Of Low Birth Weight On Health: Evidence From Brazil," Anais do XLIV Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 44th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 219, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    7. Mark E. McGovern, 2019. "How much does birth weight matter for child health in developing countries? Estimates from siblings and twins," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(1), pages 3-22, January.
    8. Nadja Klein & Thomas Kneib & Giampiero Marra & Rosalba Radice & Slawa Rokicki & Mark E. McGovern, 2018. "Mixed Binary-Continuous Copula Regression Models with Application to Adverse Birth Outcomes," CHaRMS Working Papers 18-06, Centre for HeAlth Research at the Management School (CHaRMS).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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