Critical periods during childhood and adolescence: a study of adult height among immigrant siblings

Author: Gerard J. van den Berg, And Petter Lundborg, And Paul Nystedt, And Dan-Olof Rooth, And

Summary of

Working paper

2011:5

We identify the ages that constitute critical periods in children’s development towards their adult health status. For this we use data on families migrating into Sweden from countries that are poorer, with less healthy conditions. Long-run health is proxied by adult height. The relation between siblings’ ages at migration and their heights after age 18 allows us to estimate the causal effect of conditions at certain ages on adult height. Moreover, we compare siblings born outside and within Sweden. We apply fixed-effect methods to a sample of about 9,000 brothers. We effectively exploit that for siblings the migration occurs simultaneously in calendar time but at different developmental stages (ages). We find some evidence for a critical period at age 9. The effects are stronger in families migrating from poorer countries but weaker if the mother is well-educated.