238929 Increased work-life earnings estimates attributable to breastfeeding: A biologic-econometric analysis

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Matthew Blitz, MD, MBA , Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
James McGregor, MDCM , Keck School of Medicine, Department of OB/GYN, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
OBJECTIVE: The long-term economic and social benefits of breastfeeding are not adequately quantified. Many studies have found that breastfeeding improves cognitive development as measured subsequently by standardized exams such as intelligence quotient (IQ) tests. Improved neurologic function and cognitive abilities can increase an individual's educational achievement and labor productivity, both of which contribute to increased lifetime earnings. This study estimates work-life earnings attributable to breastfeeding.

STUDY DESIGN: Publications examining the relationship between breastfeeding and IQ and those between IQ and income were analyzed. A putative causal model of breastfeeding and economic productivity was constructed. Results of prior studies were integrated to produce earnings estimates. Using U.S. Census Bureau data, we calculated work-life earnings in constant 1999 dollars based on education, gender and breastfeeding duration.

RESULTS: According to the model, attainment of a professional degree and breastfeeding of 7-9 months were associated with the greatest earnings benefits: $609,717 for men; $612,586 for women. However, even amongst non-high school graduates breastfed 7-9 months, earnings benefits were considerable: $136,253 for men; $153,688 for women.

CONCLUSION: This analysis supports further research into the economic benefits of breastfeeding. Program and policy interventions aimed at increasing breastfeeding prevalence and duration may act to maximize socioeconomic opportunities.

Learning Areas:
Biostatistics, economics
Program planning
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Estimate increased work-life earnings attributable to breastfeeding

Keywords: Breast Feeding, Economic Analysis

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I have extensive research experience on several women's health studies and an understanding of economic analysis via my formal business education.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.