Parental Education and Child Health: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Taiwan

Michael Grossman, City University of New York and National Bureau of Economic Research
Shin-Yi Chou, Lehigh University and National Bureau of Economic Research
Jin-Tan Liu, National Taiwan University and National Bureau of Economic Research
Theodore Joyce, Baruch College and National Bureau of Economic Research

This study exploits a natural experiment to estimate the causal impact of parental education on child health in Taiwan. In 1968, the Taiwan government extended compulsory education from six to nine years. To accommodate the expected increase in enrollment in junior high schools, the government opened 140 new junior high schools, a seventy-percent increase, in 1968. Our natural experiment exploits variations across cohorts in exposure to compulsory education reform and across regions in newly established school density. We estimate the impact of mother's education on child health by using cohort and newly established school density interactions as instruments for parents' education. Our main data are annual birth and death certificates from 1978 to 1999. Our two-stage least squares estimates suggest that mother's schooling has larger effects on child health outcomes than father's schooling. Parental schooling improves birthweight and related outcomes but has no significant impacts on infant mortality.

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Presented in Session 55: Child Health and Education in Developing Countries