NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Special Education Costs of Low Birthweight

Stephen Chaikind, Hope Corman

NBER Working Paper No. 3461
Issued in October 1990
NBER Program(s):   HE

This paper investigates the relationship between low birthweight, enrollment in special education and special education costs in the united states. we use the Child Health Supplement to the 1988 National Health Interview Survey, obtaining a sample of approximately 8,000 children aged 6 to 15 who are in school. For these children, we calculate the probability of attending special education, holding constant, individual, family and regional variables. We find that children who weighed less than 2500 grams at birth are almost; fifty percent more likely to be enrolled in any type of special education than children who were of normal weight at birth. Since previous studies have found the incremental cost, of special education (1989-1990) to be $4,350 per student, this results in an incremental cost; of special education of $370.8 million (1989-1990) per year due to low birth weight, holding other characteristics constant, these costs, which were conservatively estimated, imply that previous studies, which considered only medical expenditures, substantially underestimate the full cost; of low birthweight.

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Published: Journal of Health Economics, Vol 10, No. 3, pp. 291-311, September 1991.

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