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Health Endowments and Parental Investments in Infancy and Early Childhood

Author

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  • Ashlesha Datar
  • M. Rebecca Kilburn
  • David S Loughran

Abstract

This paper tests whether parents reinforce or compensate for child endowments. The authors employ birth weight as a proxy for endowments and estimate how the difference in birth weight across siblings impacts specific parental investments, including breastfeeding initiation and duration, well-baby visits, immunizations, preschool attendance, and kindergarten entry age. They also examine whether parental investment in a child is impacted by her siblings’ endowments. Their results indicate that heavier birth weight children receive higher levels of most parental investment than their lower birth weight siblings suggesting that parental investments in infancy and early childhood reinforce differences in endowments. In one exception, they find weak evidence that lower birth weight children enter kindergarten slightly later than their normal birth weight siblings, which could be interpreted as a compensating parental investment. Presence of a low birth weight sibling in the household increases the likelihood of investments such as well-baby visits and immunizations.

Suggested Citation

  • Ashlesha Datar & M. Rebecca Kilburn & David S Loughran, 2006. "Health Endowments and Parental Investments in Infancy and Early Childhood," Working Papers 367, RAND Corporation.
  • Handle: RePEc:ran:wpaper:367
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1976. "Child Endowments and the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, pages 143-162.
    2. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2007. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, pages 409-439.
    3. Behrman, Jere R & Pollak, Robert A & Taubman, Paul, 1982. "Parental Preferences and Provision for Progeny," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, pages 52-73.
    4. Jason Boardman & Daniel Powers & Yolanda Padilla & Robert Hummer, 2002. "Low birth weight, social factors, and developmental outcomes among children in the United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), pages 353-368.
    5. Griliches, Zvi, 1979. "Sibling Models and Data in Economics: Beginnings of a Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, pages 37-64.
    6. Currie, Janet & Thomas, Duncan, 1995. "Does Head Start Make a Difference?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 341-364.
    7. Ayalew, Tekabe, 2005. "Parental Preference, Heterogeneity, and Human Capital Inequality," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, pages 381-407.
    8. Pitt, Mark M & Rosenzweig, Mark R & Hassan, Md Nazmul, 1990. "Productivity, Health, and Inequality in the Intrahousehold Distribution of Food in Low-Income Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 1139-1156.
    9. Mark R. Rosenzweig & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1988. "Heterogeneity, Intrafamily Distribution, and Child Health," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, pages 437-461.
    10. Douglas Almond & Kenneth Y. Chay & David S. Lee, 2005. "The Costs of Low Birth Weight," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, pages 1031-1083.
    11. Behrman, Jere R., 1993. "Intrahousehold distribution and the family," Handbook of Population and Family Economics,in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 125-187 Elsevier.
    12. Behrman, Jere R. & Pollak, Robert A. & Taubman, Paul, 1995. "From Parent to Child," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226041568.
    13. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1976. "Child Endowments and the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, pages 143-162.
    14. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2004. "Returns to Birthweight," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, pages 586-601.
    15. Datar, Ashlesha, 2006. "Does delaying kindergarten entrance give children a head start?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, pages 43-62.
    16. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Schultz, T Paul, 1982. "Market Opportunities, Genetic Endowments, and Intrafamily Resource Distribution: Child Survival in Rural India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 803-815.
    17. Mark R. Rosenzweig & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1988. "Heterogeneity, Intrafamily Distribution, and Child Health," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, pages 437-461.
    18. Hope Corman & Stephen Chaikind, 1993. "The Effect of Low Birthweight on the Health, Behavior, and School Performance of School-Aged Children," NBER Working Papers 4409, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Behrman, Jere R & Rosenzweig, Mark R & Taubman, Paul, 1994. "Endowments and the Allocation of Schooling in the Family and in the Marriage Market: The Twins Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, pages 1131-1174.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2010. "Small Family, Smart Family? Family Size and the IQ Scores of Young Men," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press.
    2. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2007. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, pages 409-439.
    3. Del Bono, Emilia & Ermisch, John & Francesconi, Marco, 2008. "Intrafamily Resource Allocations: A Dynamic Model of Birth Weight," IZA Discussion Papers 3704, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. David Loughran & Ashlesha Datar & M. Kilburn, 2008. "The response of household parental investment to child endowments," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, pages 223-242.
    5. Amy Hsin, 2012. "Is Biology Destiny? Birth Weight and Differential Parental Treatment," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), pages 1385-1405.
    6. Akresh, Richard & Bagby, Emilie & de Walque, Damien & Kazianga, Harounan, 2012. "Child labor, schooling, and child ability," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5965, The World Bank.
    7. Heather Royer, 2009. "Separated at Girth: US Twin Estimates of the Effects of Birth Weight," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, pages 49-85.
    8. Anna Aizer & Flávio Cunha, 2012. "The Production of Human Capital: Endowments, Investments and Fertility," NBER Working Papers 18429, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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