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Another look at returns to birthweight

Shiko Maruyama () and Eskil Heinesen ()

Journal of Health Economics, 2020, vol. 70, issue C

Abstract: We revisit the causal effect of birthweight. Because variation in birthweight in developed countries primarily stems from variation in gestational age rather than intrauterine growth restriction, we depart from the widely-used twin fixed-effects estimator and employ an instrumental variable – the diagnosis of placenta previa, which provides exogenous variation in gestation length. We find protective effects of additional birthweight against infant mortality and health capital loss, such as cerebral palsy, but in contrast to sibling and twin studies, no strong evidence for non-health long-run outcomes, such as test scores. We also find that short-run birthweight effects have diminished significantly over the decades.

Keywords: Birthweight; Infant health; Gestation; Placenta previa; Fatal origin hypothesis; Instrumental variable; Twin fixed-effects (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C26 I18 J13 J24 O15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:70:y:2020:i:c:s0167629617308160

DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2019.102269

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Journal of Health Economics is currently edited by J. P. Newhouse, A. J. Culyer, R. Frank, K. Claxton and T. McGuire

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