Mother's Education and Birth Weight

42 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2007

See all articles by Arnaud Chevalier

Arnaud Chevalier

University College Dublin (UCD) - Institute for the Study of Social Change; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Vincent O'Sullivan

University College London

Date Written: February 2007

Abstract

Low birth weight has considerable short and long-term consequences and leads to high costs to the individual and society even in a developed economy. Low birth weight is partially a consequence of choices made by the mother pre- and during pregnancy. Thus policies affecting these choices could have large returns. Using British data, maternal education is found to be positively correlated with birth weight. We identify a causal effect of education using the 1947 reform of the minimum school leaving age. Change in compulsory school leaving age has been previously used as an instrument, but has been criticised for mostly picking up time trends. Here, we demonstrate that the policy effects differ by social background and hence provide identification across cohorts but also within cohort. We find modest but heterogenous positive effects of maternal education on birth weight with an increase from the baseline weight ranging from 2% to 6%.

Keywords: returns to education, health

JEL Classification: I12, I29

Suggested Citation

Chevalier, Arnaud and O'Sullivan, Vincent, Mother's Education and Birth Weight (February 2007). IZA Discussion Paper No. 2640. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=970232

Arnaud Chevalier (Contact Author)

University College Dublin (UCD) - Institute for the Study of Social Change ( email )

Belfield
Dublin 4
Ireland
+353 1 716 4616 (Phone)
+353 1 716 1108 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Vincent O'Sullivan

University College London

Gower Street
London
United Kingdom

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