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Abstract

Through numerous studies, scholars have come to view birth weight as having a lasting impact on educational outcomes. Normal birth weight is associated with greater educational attainment; however, much of the literature ignores the role of parental investment. Using data from the Fragile Families Child Well-Being Study, it was found that birth endowments alone do not produce varying levels of cognitive development, but these birth endowments do lead parents to make different choices for their children, choices that potentially exacerbate the educational divide. Children with normal birth weight receive more parental investment from birth to age 3 than children with abnormal birth weight. The increased parental investment from birth to age 3 directly increases cognitive scores and the role of parental investment on cognitive scores is amplified indirectly through birth weight. Parents may actually reinforce birth weight differences and, thus, it plays a role in the lingering cognitive gap exhibited later in life.

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