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From the cradle to the labor market? The effect of birth weight on adult outcomes

Listed author(s):
  • Paul J. Devereux
  • Sandra E. Black
  • Kjell G. Salvanes

Lower birth weight babies have worse outcomes, both short-run in terms of one-year mortality rates and longer run in terms of educational attainment and earnings. However, recent research has called into question whether birth weight itself is important or whether it simply reflects other hard-to-measure characteristics. By applying within twin techniques using an unusually rich dataset from Norway, we examine the effects of birth weight on both short-run and long-run outcomes for the same cohorts. We find that birth weight does matter; despite short-run twin fixed effects estimates that are much smaller than OLS estimates, the effects on longer-run outcomes such as adult height, IQ, earnings, and education are significant and similar in magnitude to OLS estimates.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/317
File Function: First version, 2007
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by School of Economics, University College Dublin in its series Open Access publications with number 10197/317.

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Date of creation: Jun 2007
Handle: RePEc:ucn:oapubs:10197/317
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Web page: http://www.ucd.ie/economics

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  1. 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).
  2. Paul J. Devereux & Sandra E. Black & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2003. "Why the apple doesn't fall far : understanding intergenerational transmission of human capital," Open Access publications 10197/750, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  3. Rosemary Hyson & Janet Currie, 1999. "Is the Impact of Health Shocks Cushioned by Socioeconomic Status? The Case of Low Birthweight," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 245-250, May.
  4. Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2003. "Mother's Education and the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital: Evidence from College Openings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1495-1532.
  5. Strauss, J. & Thomas, D., 1995. "Health, Nutrition and Economic development," Papers 95-23, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  6. Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2007. "Biology as Destiny? Short- and Long-Run Determinants of Intergenerational Transmission of Birth Weight," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 231-264.
  7. Paul J. Devereux & Sandra E. Black & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "The more the merrier? The effect of family size and birth order on children's education," Open Access publications 10197/310, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  8. David S. Loughran & Ashlesha Datar & M. Rebecca Kilburn, 2004. "The Interactive Effect of Birth Weight and Parental Investment on Child Test Scores," Working Papers 168, RAND Corporation.
  9. Case, Anne & Fertig, Angela & Paxson, Christina, 2005. "The lasting impact of childhood health and circumstance," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 365-389, March.
  10. Douglas Almond & Kenneth Y. Chay & David S. Lee, 2005. "The Costs of Low Birth Weight," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 1031-1083.
  11. Phil Oreopoulos & Mark Stabile & Randy Walld & Leslie Roos, 2006. "Short, Medium, and Long Term Consequences of Poor Infant Health: An Analysis using Siblings and Twins," NBER Working Papers 11998, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Ashlesha Datar & M. Rebecca Kilburn & David S. Loughran, 2006. "Health Endowments and Parental Investments in Infancy and Early Childhood," Working Papers 367, RAND Corporation.
  13. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_impact_childhood_health is not listed on IDEAS
  14. 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.
  15. Currie, Janet & Gruber, Jonathan, 1996. "Saving Babies: The Efficacy and Cost of Recent Changes in the Medicaid Eligibility of Pregnant Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1263-1296, December.
  16. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_impact_childhood_health.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
  17. 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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