Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy

No 2011:5: Critical periods during childhood and adolescence: a study of adult height among immigrant siblings

Gerard J. van den Berg (), Petter Lundborg , Paul Nystedt and Dan-Olof Rooth
Additional contact information
Gerard J. van den Berg: IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation, Postal: SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
Petter Lundborg: Lund University
Paul Nystedt: Nyköping University
Dan-Olof Rooth: Linnaeus University Kalmar

Abstract: We identify the ages that constitute critical periods in children’s development towards their adult health status. For this we use data on families migrating into Sweden from countries that are poorer, with less healthy conditions. Long-run health is proxied by adult height. The relation between siblings’ ages at migration and their heights after age 18 allows us to estimate the causal effect of conditions at certain ages on adult height. Moreover, we compare siblings born outside and within Sweden. We apply fixed-effect methods to a sample of about 9,000 brothers. We effectively exploit that for siblings the migration occurs simultaneously in calendar time but at different developmental stages (ages). We find some evidence for a critical period at age 9. The effects are stronger in families migrating from poorer countries but weaker if the mother is well-educated.

Keywords: Early-life conditions; migration; parental education; adult health; height retardation; age; fetal programming; developmental origins

JEL-codes: F22; I10; I12; I18; I20; I30; J10; N30

38 pages, February 14, 2011

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