Health Returns to Birth Weight: Evidence from Developing Countries
This paper explores the effect of birth weight on a series of anthropometric outcomes among children. We use a panel of individual-level data from 39 developing countries covering the years 1999-2018 and attempt to solve the Endogeneity using mother fixed effect and twin fixed-effect strategies. The results suggest that improvements in birth weight result in statistically and economically significant improvements in children's anthropometric outcomes. An additional 100 grams birth weight is associated with a 0.43 and 0.25 units increase in weight for age percentile and height for age percentile, respectively. The links are stronger among low educated mothers and poorer households. The observed protective effect of birth weight on infant mortality suggests that the true effects of birth weight on children’s outcomes are larger and that the estimated effects probably understate the true effects.