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The relationship between early-life conditions in the home country and adult outcomes among child immigrants in the United States

Deniz Gevrek, Cahit Guven and Z. Eylem Gevrek

Economics & Human Biology, 2022, vol. 45, issue C

Abstract: We examine the impact of health and economic conditions at birth on the adult outcomes of child immigrants using the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study. Our sample consists of children from 39 countries who were brought to the United States before the age of 13. We estimate immigrant outcomes as a function of the infant mortality rate (IMR) and GDP per capita of their home country in the year of birth, controlling for birth-year, year-of-arrival and country-of-birth fixed effects, as well as demographic characteristics. IMR has a significant negative impact on English reading ability and GPA in middle school. IMR significantly decreases first job prestige, years of schooling, working hours and log earnings. Some of these effects appear to be working through the lower middle school GPA. IMR does not influence self-rated health or labor market participation in adulthood, and there is no statistically significant relationship between GDP per capita and adult outcomes. Detrimental effects of IMR are significantly lower for children who arrived younger and whose parents have high school degree or above. Our estimates are of economic significance: the impact of being born in 1975 versus 1976 in Nicaragua in terms of the impact of IMR on earnings is equal to the gender effect on earnings. Our results cannot be explained by selection on observables: the pre-migration characteristics of children and parents are not associated significantly with the health and economic conditions at birth. Also, several tests show that our results cannot be explained by potential selection on unobservables.

Keywords: Immigrants; Birth conditions; Infant mortality; Adult outcomes; United States (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I14 J13 J15 J28 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:45:y:2022:i:c:s1570677x21000940

DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2021.101069

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