The long-run and multi-generational impacts of investments in child health: Evidence from a government trial
Speaker(s)Miriam Wüst (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
LocationErasmus University, Polak 1-17
Date and time
May 23, 2022
11:30 - 12:30
Given mounting evidence on the importance of early-life conditions for the long-run health and economic well-being of individuals, a central objective is to design effective policies investing in families and children. We study a 1960s Danish government trial with access to universal toddler preventive care. It extended a universal home visiting program to not only cover infancy but also toddler years for ten percent of children in Copenhagen. Using computer vision and machine learning techniques, we transcribe hand-written nurse records and link them to administrative data on outcomes of focal children and their families. Treated children score five percent of a standard deviation higher on a good adult health index. While we do not find improvements in a socioeconomic index summarizing educational and labor market outcomes, we find small increases in employment and a lower probability of leaving the labor force early among treated individuals, in particular for women, well in line with our health results. We show that a likely mechanism for our findings are health improvements in childhood. Important for policy, children with initial health disadvantages experience much larger health impacts that also appear to extend to the birth outcomes of their own children. These findings suggest that universal early-life health policies may contribute to the alleviation of health inequalities both early and later in life. Joint paper with Jenifer L. Baker, Lise G. Bjerregaard, Christian M. Dahl, Torben S. D. Johansen and Emil Nørmark Sørensen.
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