Department of Economics
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081
Institutional Affiliation: Swarthmore College
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|June 2020||Sibling Correlation in Educational Attainment: A Test of Genetic Nurture|
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The educational attainment of siblings is highly correlated. We test for a specific type of peer effect between siblings in educational attainment: genetic nurture. Specifically, we test whether a person’s educational attainment is correlated with their sibling’s polygenic score (PGS) for educational attainment, controlling for their own PGS for educational attainment. Models estimated using genetic data in the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) yield strong evidence of such genetic nurture between siblings, and this result is robust to alternative measures of educational attainment and different measures of polygenic score.
|October 2019||What to Expect When It Gets Hotter: The Impacts of Prenatal Exposure to Extreme Heat on Maternal Health|
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We use temperature variation within narrowly-defined geographic and demographic cells to show that exposure to extreme heat increases the risk of maternal hospitalization during pregnancy for potentially life-threatening causes. We find that this effect is driven by women residing in historically cooler rather than hotter counties, suggesting that adaptation plays a role in mitigating the health impacts of weather shocks. We also find that the heat-induced deterioration in maternal pregnancy health is larger for black than for white mothers, suggesting that projected increases in extreme heat over the next century may further exacerbate the black-white maternal health gap.
|August 2017||Testing for Peer Effects Using Genetic Data|
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Estimating peer effects is notoriously difficult because of the reflection problem and the endogeneity of peer group formation. This paper tests for peer effects in obesity in a novel way that addresses these challenges. It addresses the reflection problem by using the alter’s genetic risk score for obesity, which is a significant predictor of obesity, is determined prior to birth, and cannot be affected by the behavior of others. It addresses the endogeneity of peer group formation by examining peers who are not self-selected: full siblings. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, we find evidence of positive peer effects in weight and obesity; having a sibling with a high genetic predisposition raises one’s risk of obesity, even controlling for one’s own ...
Published: Cawley, John, Euna Han, Jiyoon Kim, and Edward C. Norton. July 2019. “Testing for Family Influences on Obesity: The Role of Genetic Nurture.” Health Economics, 28(7): 937-952.