Birth Weight and Cognitive Development During Childhood: Evidence from India

59 Pages Posted: 19 May 2022

See all articles by Santosh Kumar

Santosh Kumar

Department of Economics and International Business, College of Business Administration, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX, USA; IZA Institute of Labor Economics ; Global Labor Organization

Kaushalendra Kumar

Deemed Universities of India - International Institute for Population Sciences

Ramanan Laxminarayan

Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy; One Health Trust; Princeton University

Arindam Nandi

The Population Council; The Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP)

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Abstract

Health at birth is an important indicator of human capital development over the life course. This paper uses longitudinal data from the Young Lives survey and employs instrumental variable regression models to estimate the effect of birth weight on cognitive development during childhood in India. We find that a 10 percent increase in birth weight increases cognitive test scores by 8.1 percent or 0.11 standard deviations at ages 5-8 years. Low birth weight infants experienced a lower test score compared with normal birth weight infants. The positive effect of birth weight on a cognitive test score is larger for girls, children from rural households, and those with less-educated mothers. Our findings suggest that health policies designed to improve birth weight could improve human capital in resource-poor settings.

Keywords: children, PPVT, cognition, test score, birth weight, instrumental variable, India

JEL Classification: I12, I15, I18, J13, J24, O12

Suggested Citation

Kumar, Santosh and Kumar, Kaushalendra and Laxminarayan, Ramanan and Laxminarayan, Ramanan and Nandi, Arindam, Birth Weight and Cognitive Development During Childhood: Evidence from India. IZA Discussion Paper No. 15124, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4114683 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4114683

Santosh Kumar (Contact Author)

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