Health at Birth, short-run health effects and educational outcomes

Produced by: 
São Paulo School of Economics FGV
Available from: 
August 2018
Paper author(s): 
Isabela Brandão Furtado
Enlinson Mattos
Education - Health

This paper estimates the effects of birth weight on health and educational outcomes for Brazil using a twin fixed effect approach. The recent literature, mainly based on data from developed countries, has provided evidence that health at birth is a critical factor for outcomes related to health and to cognition. Using a matching of administrative records of birth and school enrollment we aim to provide this type of evidence for Brazil. The main finding is that birth weight matters. For instance, there is evidence that a 10% increase in weight is associated with a 0.6% increase in Apgar, a score for health at birth. In the educational dimension, the findings suggest that a 10% increase in birth weight is associated with a 6% increase in the chances of completing high school by the age of 17 and with a 3.6% decrease in the probability of repeating a grade. Furthermore, estimates provide evidence that parents tend to reinforce, rather than compensate, the negative effects of adverse initial health conditions. Larger effects are found for the infants with low birth weight, limited access to basic health care services, lower maternal education and enrolled at schools of lower socioeconomic status.


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