Parental investment responses to a low birth weight outcome: who compensates and who reinforces?
This study analyzes how parental investment responds to a low birth weight (LBW) outcome and finds important differences in investment responses by maternal education. High school dropouts reinforce a LBW outcome by providing less investment in the human capital of their LBW children relative to their normal birth weight children whereas higher educated mothers compensate by investing more in their LBW children. In addition, an increase in the number of LBW siblings present in the home raises investment in a child, which is consistent with reinforcement, but this positive effect tends to be concentrated among high school dropouts. These results suggest that studies analyzing the effects of LBW on child outcomes that do not account for heterogeneity in investment responses to a LBW outcome by maternal education may overestimate effects of LBW on child outcomes for those born to low-educated mothers and underestimate such effects for those born to high-educated mothers.
KeywordsParental investment Human capital Low birth weight Education Income
JEL ClassificationD13 I14 I24 J13
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