Another look at returns to birthweight

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Health Economics, 2020, 70
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
© 2020 The Authors 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.
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