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The Effect of Breast Feeding on Educational Attainment: Evidence from Sibling Data

Daniel Rees () and Joseph J. Sabia

Journal of Human Capital, 2009, vol. 3, issue 1, 43-72

Abstract: Using data on sibling pairs drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we estimate the effect of having been breast-fed on high school graduation, high school grades, and college attendance. Our results suggest that breast feeding is associated with substantial increases in high school grade point average and in the probability of college attendance. Adding measures of cognitive ability and adolescent health to our model explains more than one-half of the estimated effect of being breast-fed on high school grades and approximately one-fifth of the estimated effect on college attendance. We conclude that improvements in cognitive ability and adolescent health may be important pathways through which breast feeding affects long-term academic achievement. (c) 2009 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

Date: 2009
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