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Born to win? The role of circumstances and luck in early childhood health inequalities

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  • David (David Patrick) Madden

Abstract

This paper measures the degree of inequality of opportunity in birthweight and birthlength for a sample of Irish infants. The sample is partitioned into eight types by mothers’ education and mothers’ smoking status. Stochastic dominance tests reveal the presence of inequality of opportunity but its fraction of total inequality is comparatively small at 1-2%, with the remainder of inequality assigned to random, unobserved factors. These results are robust to finer partitioning of the population and to re-definition of types’ opportunity sets which gives greater weight to inequality at the lower end of the distribution. Analysis of the incidence of low birthweight and short birthlength using measures from the poverty and segregation literature also reveal that incidence is not uniform across type and is consistent with the presence of inequality of opportunity.

Suggested Citation

  • David (David Patrick) Madden, 2013. "Born to win? The role of circumstances and luck in early childhood health inequalities," Working Papers 201313, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:201313
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/4798
    File Function: First version, 2013
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Delaney, Liam & McGovern, Mark & Smith, James P., 2011. "From Angela's ashes to the Celtic tiger: Early life conditions and adult health in Ireland," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 1-10, January.
    2. Almond, Douglas & Currie, Janet, 2011. "Human Capital Development before Age Five," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    3. 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, vol. 122(1), pages 409-439.
    4. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie, 2011. "Killing Me Softly: The Fetal Origins Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 153-172, Summer.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inequality of opportunity; Decomposition; Poverty; Child health;

    JEL classification:

    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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