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Born to Win? The Role of Circumstances and Luck in Early Childhood Health Inequalities

  • David Madden

    (University College Dublin)

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.

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File URL: http://www.ucd.ie/t4cms/WP13_13.pdf
File Function: First version, 2013
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by School of Economics, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 201313.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: 27 Sep 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:201313
Contact details of provider: Postal: UCD, Belfield, Dublin 4
Phone: +353-1-7067777
Fax: +353-1-283 0068
Web page: http://www.ucd.ie/economics

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  1. 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, MIT Press, vol. 122(1), pages 409-439, 02.
  2. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie, 2010. "Human Capital Development Before Age Five," NBER Working Papers 15827, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie, 2011. "Killing Me Softly: The Fetal Origins Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 153-72, Summer.
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