How Much Does Birth Weight Matter for Child Health in Developing Countries? Estimates from Siblings and Twins

Mark E. McGovern, Harvard University

200 million children globally do not meet their growth potential, and suffer the consequences in terms of future outcomes. I examine the effects of birth weight on child health and growth using information on a million children from the Demographic and Health Surveys. I account for missing data and measurement error using instrumental variables, and adopt an identification strategy based on siblings and twins. I find a consistent effect of birth weight on mortality risk, stunting, wasting, and coughing, with some evidence for fever, diarrhoea and anaemia. Bounds analysis indicates that coefficients may be substantially underestimated due to mortality selection.

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Presented in Session 128: Health and Mortality in Developing Countries