Danish Economics students best at estimating birth weight – University of Copenhagen

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30 April 2012

Danish Economics students best at estimating birth weight

Mother and child statistics

Economics students from the University of Copenhagen take gold in the 'Econometric Game 2012'. In Amsterdam, teams from 30 international universities have recently taken on the challenge of estimating the effect that smoking has on infants' birth weight. Students from the University of Copenhagen lead the way by taking a critical approach to this year's case study and won over both Aarhus and Harvard.

- The study programme in Economics at the University of Copenhagen teaches us not to accept published results at face value and independent critical faculty is developed. Our approach was far more critical than the approach of the other universities, and this is definitely a contributing factor to the fact that we became the winners, says PhD student Anna Folke Larsen, Department of Economics.

Last week, Anna Folke Andersen, together with four other Economics students, participated in the international competition for Economics students, ’Econometric Game 2012’, in Amsterdam. The team took home gold for their proposed solution to the case study ’the effect of smoking on infants' birth weight’ in which, among other things, they questioned applied econometric methods of the case study data.

Birth weight drop of 90 grams 

Every team was on their own when it came to finding the theories and methods that come closest to estimating and explaining the link between smoking and birth weight:   

- Numerous factors are significant when it comes to the birth weight of infants. Diet, amount of alcohol consumed, genes and the general health of the mothers are also significant in terms of the birth weight. This makes it all the harder to prove smoking to be the direct cause for the fact that smokers' children weigh less at birth. We did, however, to a certain extent manage to show a direct link between smoking eight cigarettes a day during the entire pregnancy and a birth weight drop of 90 grams, and possibly more, says Anna Folke Larsen.

About Econometric Game

The Econometric Game 2012 took place in Amsterdam from 17 to 19 April 2012. 30 econometrics teams from leading European universities and a few universities in the USA and Canada participated in the competition. The University of Copenhagen took first place, Aarhus University took second and Harvard University took third. Close behind came a number of European top universities such as Oxford University and London School of Economics.

The 2012 case study sought to identify and estimate the causal effect that smoking during pregnancy may have on infants' birth weight. The main econometric challenge consisted in allowing for a number of non-observable health factors that could also possibly affect children's birth weight: www.econometricgame.com