Long Term Effects of Health Investments and Parental Favoritism: The Case of Breastfeeding

24 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2011

See all articles by Jason M. Fletcher

Jason M. Fletcher

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs; Yale University - School of Public Health

Date Written: March 13, 2011

Abstract

This paper re-examines the effects of breastfeeding on long term educational outcomes using longitudinal data on siblings. While family fixed effects allow controls for all shared family factors, these estimators are sensitive to compensating or reinforcing behaviors by parents. These biases may be particularly important for estimating the effects of parental investment such as breast feeding, where sibling discordance may be difficult to treat as a random outcome and may result in persistence in differential investments between siblings. This paper uses a unique question asked to adolescent siblings about parental favoritism to adjust for potential reinforcing behavior by parents. Standard fixed effects estimates suggest important long term educational effects of breastfeeding, however these effects are uniformly eliminated after focusing on families who treat siblings equally. These findings shed light on the mechanisms linking associations between breastfeeding and longer term outcomes.

Keywords: Breastfeeding, Human Capital Accumulation, Early Investments, Sibling Fixed Effects, Parental Favoritism

JEL Classification: I12, D12

Suggested Citation

Fletcher, Jason M., Long Term Effects of Health Investments and Parental Favoritism: The Case of Breastfeeding (March 13, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1784984 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1784984

Jason M. Fletcher (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs ( email )

1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1393
United States

Yale University - School of Public Health ( email )

PO Box 208034
60 College Street
New Haven, CT 06520-8034
United States

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