Atlantic Economic Journal

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 37–49 | Cite as

The Effect of Health and Poverty on Early Childhood Cognitive Development

  • David M. Welsch
  • David M. ZimmerEmail author


Although evidence of a link between socioeconomic status and child health has been researched extensively, much less attention has been devoted to studying the link between child health and cognitive development. This paper seeks to determine whether early childhood illnesses and poverty significantly impede cognitive development. The empirical model attempts to control for observed and unobserved heterogeneity through the use of panel data models. Results indicate that a child’s cognitive development is not directly related to health problems acquired after birth or socioeconomic standing. Rather, cognitive development is primarily influenced by unobserved child- and family-specific factors that happen to be correlated with health and socioeconomic status. On the other hand, birth weight appears to affect cognitive performance later in childhood, even after taking unobserved heterogeneity into account.


National longitudinal survey of youth Peabody tests Panel data Internal instruments 


I18 I32 C23 


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Copyright information

© International Atlantic Economic Society 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of Wisconsin – WhitewaterWhitewaterUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsWestern Kentucky UniversityBowling GreenUSA

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