NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Alcohol Exposure In Utero and Child Academic Achievement

Stephanie von Hinke Kessler Scholder, George L. Wehby, Sarah Lewis, Luisa Zuccolo

NBER Working Paper No. 19839
Issued in January 2014
NBER Program(s):   CH   DEV   ED   HE   PE

We examine the effect of alcohol exposure in utero on child academic achievement. As well as studying the effect of any alcohol exposure, we investigate the effect of the dose, pattern, and duration of exposure. We use a genetic variant in the maternal alcohol-metabolism gene ADH1B as an instrument for alcohol exposure, whilst controlling for the child’s genotype on the same variant. We show that the instrument is unrelated to an extensive range of maternal and paternal characteristics and behaviours. OLS regressions suggest an ambiguous association between alcohol exposure in utero and children’s academic attainment, but there is a strong social gradient in maternal drinking, with mothers in higher socio-economic groups more likely to drink. In stark contrast to the OLS, the IV estimates show negative effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on child educational attainment. These results are very robust to an extensive set of model specifications. In addition, we show that that the effects are solely driven by the maternal genotype, with no impact of the child’s genotype.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19839

Published: Stephanie Hinke Kessler Scholder & George L. Wehby & Sarah Lewis & Luisa Zuccolo, 2014. "Alcohol Exposure In Utero and Child Academic Achievement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0(576), pages 634-667, 05. citation courtesy of

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