Joint ESRI/Geary Institute Research Seminar: “Do Initial Endowments Matter only Initially? Birth Weight, Parental Investments and School Achievement”

Venue: The ESRI, Whitaker Square, Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2

Date: 20/06/2013
Time: 4pm

Speaker: Prashant Bharadwaj, University of California, San Diego.

This paper investigates the role of initial health endowments on school achievement in early childhood through adolescence. Using birth weight as a proxy for childhood endowments, we investigate this link using twins and siblings fixed effects estimators. We collected birth weight and basic demographic data on all twins and siblings born in Chile between 1992-2000 and match these births to administrative school records between 2002-2008. Twins effects reveal that a 10% increase in birth weight improves performance in math by nearly 0.05 standard deviations in 1st grade.

We exploit repeated observations on twin pairs to show that the effect of birth weight is a persistent effect that does not deteriorate as children advance through grade 8. Siblings fixed effects estimators between grades 1 through 8 show a birth weight effect that declines as children age, but the decline is less among siblings closer together in age than among siblings who are further apart. OLS estimators also show a steady decline in the birth weight effect as children age: birth weight has a large effect in grade 1, but this effect diminishes significantly by grade 8.

Using data from a unique survey that asks both parents and children about parental investments relating to school work, we suggest parental investments as a plausible mechanism for the observed patterns in twins and siblings fixed effects estimators, and OLS. While parental investments are negatively correlated with birth weight, we find evidence of no differential care (by birth weight) within twin pairs; however, within siblings pairs and across families in general, the lower birth weight child appears to receive greater investments. Thus, it appears that parental investments that compensate for lower initial endowments can lessen the impact of birth weight on later life outcomes.


Prashant Bharadwaj is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of California, San Diego. His research interests are in development and labor economics, focusing on the interactions between early childhood health, gender and education.

All welcome. No booking required.

Conference: Health Systems in the Era of Austerity

The current economic crisis has led to large reductions in public health budgets in Ireland and across the EU.

Already stressed health systems are under huge pressure to maintain safe services and to do more with less. At the same time, they are expected to meet more complex, growing health needs while improving and reforming service delivery.

The economic crisis provides a unique opportunity to examine how different health systems are faring in recessionary times, and to draw out lessons for policy coming from cross country comparisons.

‘Health systems in the Era of Austerity’ is a joint ESRI/TCD conference, held at the ESRI on Tuesday June 18th 2013.

A panel of Irish and international experts will examine national and international experiences, drawing on TCD research on the resilience of the Irish health system and on a joint ESRI/TCD/WHO ‘rapid response’ report on health system responses to the economic crisis. Contrasting lessons from Spain, Estonia and the wider WHO Europe region will also be presented.

Link to conference programme here.

Firm and household credit constraints

The ESRI has just posted two Research Notes on credit constraints. The Note on Measuring Credit Constraints for Irish SMEs shows that finding customers has been the largest problem for SMEs. The analysis suggests that roughly one in nine SMEs faced credit constraints between April and September 2012. Micro firms, those not exporting and those in the construction, real estate, hotels and professional services sectors are most affected. The latest ECB data indicate that in recent months concerns about access to finance have become more wide spread. 

The Note on Younger and Older Households in the Crisis shows that between 2005 and 2010, average income and consumption dropped for younger Irish households, but rose for older households. The Note shows that younger households are most affected by unemployment, arrears and negative equity. It argues that credit constraints arising from these prevent younger households from smoothing consumption. Deleveraging helps to exit credit constraints arising from negative equity.

ESRI Research Seminar: “What Explains the German Labor Market Miracle in the Great Recession?”

Speaker: Michael Burda (Humboldt University of Berlin)
Venue: The ESRI, Whitaker Square, Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2
Date: 25/04/2013, 4pm
Abstract available here
All welcome, no booking required.

Report on SME Credit Demand

The Department of Finance has published a third Report on the Demand for Credit by SMEs here. The report covers the period April to September 2012. The main findings are that

 39% of SMEs sought bank finance in the report period, a one percentage point increase from the report half a year ago

 56% of formal finance applications were approved fully and 4% partially; 19% were declined, and 21% remained pending

Almost half of all SMEs believe that banks do currently not lend to SMEs in Ireland

–  7% of SMEs have not applied for credit because of this

 The view that banks do not lend is mainly based on media reports and the experience of business peers, not on own personal experience.