The effect of birth weight on behavioral problems in early adolescence: New evidence from monozygotic twins

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It is well-established that the prenatal period is a critical and sensitive period of an individual’s life, linking prenatal circumstances to short- and long-term outcomes such as infant mortality, educational and occupational success. However, little is known about how prenatal nurture affects intermediate outcomes and noncognitive characteristics such as behavior and behavioral problems. In this paper, I investigate the effects of birth weight on behavioral problems at age 12. I comprehensively control for confounders related to family background and genetics by employing a research design exploiting differences among Danish monozygotic twins. I find that birth weight has a statistically significant negative effect on behavioral problems measured using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, and that birth weight affects boys and girls differently: birth weight is significantly negatively associated with emotional problems among girls and hyperactivity among boys.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100828
JournalEconomics and Human Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2020

ID: 230477784