Parental Age and Birth Defects: a Sibling Study

18 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2020 Last revised: 16 Jun 2020

See all articles by Hans K. Hvide

Hans K. Hvide

University of Bergen - Department of Economics; University of Aberdeen - Business School; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Julian Johnsen

University of Bergen

Kjell G. Salvanes

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: March 25, 2020

Abstract

Parental age at childbearing has generated much attention as a potential risk factor for birth disorders, but prior research findings are mixed. Existing studies exploit variation in parental age across families, a methodology that is problematic because families differ not only in parental age but also in genetic or environmental aspects, To isolate the effects of parental age, holding genetic and environmental factors constant, we exploit variation in parental age within families; we compare full siblings. The data is the Medical Birth Registry of Norway, which covers the entire population of births in Norway over an extended period, totaling 1.2 million births. Using variation in parental age within families, we find consistently large effects of increased parental age on the increased risk of birth disorders. To facilitate comparison with the existing literature, we also estimate the effects of parental age using variation in parental age across families. The effects are substantially weaker. We conclude that the existing literature may have underestimated the negative effects of parental aging on adverse offspring outcomes.

Keywords: Birth Defects, Parental Age

JEL Classification: I1, J13,

Suggested Citation

Hvide, Hans and Johnsen, Julian and Salvanes, Kjell G., Parental Age and Birth Defects: a Sibling Study (March 25, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3556556 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3556556

Hans Hvide (Contact Author)

University of Bergen - Department of Economics ( email )

Fosswinckelsgt. 6
N-5007 Bergen, 5007
Norway

University of Aberdeen - Business School ( email )

Edward Wright Building
Dunbar Street
Aberdeen, Scotland AB24 3QY
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://hans.hvide.googlepages.com/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Julian Johnsen

University of Bergen ( email )

Mus├ęplassen 1
N-5008 Bergen, +47 55 58
Norway

Kjell G. Salvanes

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics ( email )

Helleveien 30
N-5035 Bergen
Norway
+47 5 595 9315 (Phone)
+47 5 595 9543 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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