Teen Smoking and Birth Outcomes

MaryBeth Walker, Erdal Tekin, Sally Wallace

NBER Working Paper No. 13386
Issued in September 2007
NBER Program(s):Children, Health Economics

In the U.S. teen mothers are more likely to give birth to low birth weight babies than non-teen mothers. There is also substantial evidence that smoking is a risk factor correlated with low birth weight. Low birth weight is a costly outcome in both the short and long term for parents, children, and society at large. This paper examines the causal link between teen age smoking behavior and low birth weight. We use a variety of empirical techniques including fixed effects and a matching estimator to identify the impact of smoking on babies of teen and non-teen mothers. We find that both OLS and matching estimator results yield large impacts of smoking on birth weight for teens and adults. However, when we control for unobservables through a fixed effects model, the impact of smoking on birth weight is diminished and there are relatively small differences in the impact of smoking on birth weight between teens and non-teens.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13386

Published: Mary Beth Walker & Erdal Tekin & Sally Wallace, 2009. "Teen Smoking and Birth Outcomes," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 892–907, January. citation courtesy of

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