The LRF Center for Economics of Breastfeeding is a research center at the University of Zurich. The primary aim of the Center is to undertake high-quality research within economics of child and youth development with a focus on breastfeeding. The main goal of the research is to inform policy-makers and public health organizations in designing policies and programs to improve child and youth development.
The Center is run by world-class researchers who design and conduct empirical research on the social and economic determinants of child and youth development. We conduct rigorous empirical analyses based on existing data, leveraging existing policy changes and other quasi-experimental settings, to provide causal evidence. In the future, we are planning also to collect our own data and to answer our research questions based on randomized control trials.
The Center is dedicated to high-quality research that will ultimately improve the lives of children and young adults. In particular, an important focus of the Center is to improve our knowledge of the causes and consequences of breastfeeding.
Early childhood conditions have long-lasting consequences for later life economic and social wellbeing. Breastfeeding might be one key ingredient in the intergenerational transmission of human capital and thereby economic inequality, as we see a strong socio-economic gradient in breastfeeding rates across developed countries with more economically advantaged mothers being more likely to breastfeed. A major public health focus – resting on correlational evidence– concerns how to improve breastfeeding rates globally. Yet, causal evidence of the effects of breastfeeding is still in its infancy: What are the consequences of breastfeeding on children’s health, cognitive, emotional, and social development? How does breastfeeding promotion affect the child’s family environment? Why do not all mothers breastfeed? What could be done to improve breastfeeding rates?
Other important questions that we focus on in the Center concern how the childhood family and school environment affects human capital development, such as educational attainment, choice of field of study and occupation, economic preferences, and earnings.