The relationship between birth weight and educational attainment.

This project aims to examine the relationship between birth weight/pre-term births and educational attainment, with reference to other related variables including geography, family background and socio-economic status to explore whether birth weight is an accurate predictor of educational attainment through a data linkage project between health trust data and the NILS database.

Birth weight has been recognised as a related factor in immediate detrimental outcomes including higher rates of infant mortality and increased prevalence of learning difficulties (WHO, 2012). This research will allow the opportunity to examine the potential long-term effects of this, by looking at educational attainment into adulthood. The importance of educational attaninment on life chances thereafter is immense, as it has an impact on future earning potential, and the ability to increase opportunities for their own offspring.

Although some research has been carried out in the UK on low birth weight and educational outcomes, they tend to use cohorts born much earlier in the 20th century (e.g. Currie and Hyson, 1999). The advantage of using a cohort born in the 1980s means that the findings will add weight to the previous findings, and reflect the situation in Northern Ireland today much more effectively.


Research Team: Ms Emma Morgan and Dr Catherine McNamee
Database: NILS
Project Status: Complete
Organisation(s): Queen’s University Belfast