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Birth order and health of newborns


Brenøe, Anne Ardila; Molitor, Ramona (2018). Birth order and health of newborns. Journal of Population Economics, 31(2):363-395.

Abstract

We examine birth order differences in health of newborns and follow the children throughout childhood using high-quality administrative data on individuals born in Denmark between 1981 and 2010. Family fixed effects models show a positive and robust effect of birth order on health at birth; firstborn children are less healthy at birth. During earlier pregnancies, women are more likely to smoke, receive more prenatal care, and are more likely to suffer a medical pregnancy complication, suggesting worse maternal health. We further show that the health disadvantage of firstborns persists in the first years of life, disappears by age seven, and becomes a health advantage in adolescence. In contrast, later-born children are throughout childhood more likely to suffer an injury. The results on health in adolescence are consistent with previous evidence of a firstborn advantage in education and with the hypothesis that postnatal investments differ between first- and later-born children.

Abstract

We examine birth order differences in health of newborns and follow the children throughout childhood using high-quality administrative data on individuals born in Denmark between 1981 and 2010. Family fixed effects models show a positive and robust effect of birth order on health at birth; firstborn children are less healthy at birth. During earlier pregnancies, women are more likely to smoke, receive more prenatal care, and are more likely to suffer a medical pregnancy complication, suggesting worse maternal health. We further show that the health disadvantage of firstborns persists in the first years of life, disappears by age seven, and becomes a health advantage in adolescence. In contrast, later-born children are throughout childhood more likely to suffer an injury. The results on health in adolescence are consistent with previous evidence of a firstborn advantage in education and with the hypothesis that postnatal investments differ between first- and later-born children.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Demography
Social Sciences & Humanities > Economics and Econometrics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Birth order, child health, fetal health, health at birth, prenatal investments
Language:English
Date:1 April 2018
Deposited On:09 Jan 2019 12:20
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 08:58
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0933-1433
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00148-017-0660-1
Official URL:https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00148-017-0660-1

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