Low Birth Weight, Socioeconomic Status, and Childhood Outcomes: A Fixed-Effects Analysis

Laura Prichett, Johns Hopkins University

In this paper, we explore the relationships between birth weight and childhood behavior, health and cognitive abilities using a large (N=3428) nationally representative dataset. The focus of the paper is the contrast among estimates of the effect of birth weight in bivariate models of childhood outcomes, multivariate models that control for observed socioeconomic differences, and models that control for unobserved family characteristics that may underlie both birth weight and subsequent outcomes. There is a small, but statistically significant negative relationship between birth weight and various positive childhood outcomes in bivariate and multivariate models, especially among girls. This effect disappears when unobserved characteristics of families are controlled.

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Presented in Session 21: Risk and Protective Factors for Children and Youth