Econometrics & Applied Economics Seminar - Gabriella Conti (University College London)

Room 315, Level 3, FBE Building, 111 Barry Street, Carlton

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Title: (Growing) Up in Smoke? The impact of prenatal and postnatal maternal smoking on child development

Abstract: This paper estimates the first child development production function which incorporates both pre- and post-natal inputs. We estimate the causal impact of maternal pre- and post-natal smoking on child development using a joint dynamic model of maternal behaviours and child outcomes with state dependence and rich unobserved heterogeneity. Our empirical strategy exploits panel data and instrumental variables and uses data on children of young, disadvantaged first-time mothers in England, amongst whom the likelihood of smoking is almost twice as large as that of the average mother. We confirm previous findings that smoking during pregnancy negatively impacts birth and postnatal outcomes. We provide the novel finding that maternal smoking one year after birth negatively affects cognitive and socio-emotional development, over and above the effect of maternal smoking during pregnancy. We also show that failing to account for the endogeneity of maternal smoking severely under-estimates its negative impacts on child development, which is consistent with mothers adjusting their behaviour to compensate for their children’s frailer endowment.