Low Birth Weight, Parental Investment, and Early Educational Outcomes

Jamie L. Lynch, Ohio State University
Ryan Brooks, Ohio State University

Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study–Birth Cohort and twin-fixed-effect models, we address two questions: Do parents compensate for or reinforce health disparities through parental investments? Does variation in parental investment mediate health disparities in math and reading? Our results indicate that within families, normal-birth-weight siblings do not receive greater parental investment than their low-birth-weight counterparts. However, in the population at large, low-birth-weight children are found to receive less parental investments than normal-birth-weight children. Equating for differences in parental investment across birth weight does little to alter large disparities in early math and reading skills. Overall, results point to large birth weight disparities in math and reading ability prior to formal schooling and further indicate that, contrary to previous research, parental investment is not a primary mechanism connecting birth weight with early educational inequality.

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Presented in Poster Session 7