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Health Endowments and Parental Investments in Infancy and Early Childhood

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

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.

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Paper provided by RAND Corporation Publications Department in its series Working Papers with number 367.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ran:wpaper:367
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  1. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell Salvanes, 2005. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 11796, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1976. "Child Endowments, and the Quantity and Quality of Children," NBER Working Papers 0123, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Douglas Almond & Kenneth Y. Chay & David S. Lee, 2004. "The Costs of Low Birth Weight," NBER Working Papers 10552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Pitt, Mark M. & Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Hassan, Md. Nazmul, 1989. "Productivity, Health and Inequality in the Intrahousehold Distribution of Food in Low-Income Countries," Bulletins 7480, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.
  5. 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, vol. 39(2), pages 353-368, May.
  6. Behrman, Jere R & Pollak, Robert A & Taubman, Paul, 1982. "Parental Preferences and Provision for Progeny," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(1), pages 52-73, February.
  7. Ayalew, Tekabe, 2005. "Parental Preference, Heterogeneity, and Human Capital Inequality," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(2), pages 381-407, January.
  8. Thomas, D. & Currie, J., 1993. "Does Head Start Make a Difference?," Papers 694, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  9. Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Wolpin, Kenneth I., 1984. "Heterogeneity, Intrafamily Distribution and Child Health," Bulletins 8429, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.
  10. 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.
  11. Datar, Ashlesha, 2006. "Does delaying kindergarten entrance give children a head start?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 43-62, February.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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, vol. 72(4), pages 803-15, September.
  16. 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, vol. 102(6), pages 1131-74, December.
  17. Griliches, Zvi, 1979. "Sibling Models and Data in Economics: Beginnings of a Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages S37-64, October.
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