American Economic Review: Vol. 103 No. 5 (August 2013)


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Early Life Health Interventions and Academic Achievement

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Bharadwaj, Prashant, Katrine Vellesen Løken, and Christopher Neilson. 2013. "Early Life Health Interventions and Academic Achievement." American Economic Review, 103(5): 1862-91.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.5.1862


This paper studies the effect of improved early life health care on mortality and long-run academic achievement in school. We use the idea that medical treatments often follow rules of thumb for assigning care to patients, such as the classification of Very Low Birth Weight (VLBW), which assigns infants special care at a specific birth weight cutoff. Using detailed administrative data on schooling and birth records from Chile and Norway, we establish that children who receive extra medical care at birth have lower mortality rates and higher test scores and grades in school. These gains are in the order of 0.15-0.22 standard deviations.

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Bharadwaj, Prashant (U CA, San Diego)
Løken, Katrine Vellesen (U Bergen)
Neilson, Christopher (Yale U)

JEL Classifications

I11: Analysis of Health Care Markets
I12: Health Production
I18: Health: Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
I21: Analysis of Education
J13: Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
O15: Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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