Abstract – Governments devote considerable resources on reducing the incidence of low birth weight with the reasoning that low birth weight is the cause of poor infant health. Much of what we know on the causal link between these variables comes from developed countries. However, these estimates may have limited external validity to the developing world if families with more resources are better able to remediate the effects of poor neonatal health. This study uses unique, rich data and a within-twin identification strategy to estimate the effect of low birth weight on infant mortality in Brazil. We document that the effects of low birth weight are much larger than those derived from the US and Norwegian context. This finding suggests that applying from these economies to poorer countries may be misleading for cost-benefit assessments of policy.
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