Birth Weight and Cognitive Development during Childhood: Evidence from India

Santosh Kumar, Kaushalendra Kumar, Ramanan Laxminarayan, Arindam Nandi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Health at birth is an important indicator of human capital development over the life course. This paper uses longitudinal data from the Young Lives survey and employs instrumental variable regression models to estimate the effect of birth weight on cognitive development during childhood in India. We find that a 10 per cent increase in birth weight increases cognitive test scores by 0.11 standard deviations at 5–8 years of age. Low birth weight infants experience a lower test score compared with normal birth weight infants. The positive effect of birth weight on a cognitive test score is larger for girls, children from rural households and those with less educated mothers. Our findings suggest that health policies designed to improve birth weight could improve human capital in resource-poor settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-175
Number of pages21
JournalEconomic Papers
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Economics, Econometrics and Finance


  • birth weight
  • children
  • cognition
  • India
  • instrumental variable
  • PPVT
  • test score


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