Date / Time

11:00 am 14/10/2019 -

12:30 pm 14/10/2019


Room 650, Social Sciences Building (A02)


The University of Sydney, Camperdown NSW, Australia

The University of Sydney, Camperdown NSW, Australia


For further information contact: Nathan Kettlewell | ph: 8627 5934 |email:


This paper estimates the causal impact of maternal pre- and post-natal smoking on child development using a joint dynamic model of maternal smoking and child outcomes with state dependence and unobserved heterogeneity.

Our empirical strategy exploits panel data and instrumental variables and uses data on children of young, disadvantaged first-time mothers in England, amongst whom the likelihood of smoking is almost twice as large as that of the average mother.

We show smoking during pregnancy reduces birth weight and gestational age at birth and adversely affects motor and cognitive development at age 1. Maternal smoking one year after birth negatively affects socio-emotional and personal social development, language and ne motor development, as well as problem solving abilities (over and above the effect of maternal smoking during pregnancy). Failing to account for the endogeneity of maternal smoking severely under-estimates the negative impacts of maternal smoking on child development, which is consistent with mothers reducing their smoking to compensate for their children’s frailer endowment.

Co-authors:  Sarah Cattan (Institute for Fiscal Studies), Francesca Salvati (University College London)

Prof Conti’s work on the long-term impacts of early childhood interventions/conditions is impressive. She was trained at University of Essex, spent five years at the University of Chicago (where she was a close collaborator of James J. Heckman), and is now an Associate Professor at UCL. Her work has been published not only in high-impact economics journals (EJ, RESTAT, JE’metrics, AER), but in the Top general interest journals in medicine (Lancet), science (Science), and epidemiology (International Journal of Epidemiology). She now also holds one of the highly-prestigious ERC Consolidator Awards.