Economic research emphasises the importance of cognitive and non-cognitive skills in children for long-term labour market, health and social outcomes. In contrast to previous studies that focus on the effects of maternal smoking during pregnancy, we contribute to the literature by examining whether parental current smoking impacts on children’s cognitive and non-cognitive development. We exploit data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children and address potential endogeneity and self-selectivity bias using robust estimation methods. Overall, we find evidence that parental smoking results in worse development outcomes in children. Specifically, our fixed-effects estimates indicate that children living with parents who are smokers exhibit lower cognitive outcomes ranging between 0.09 and 0.17 standard deviation, while the impacts on non-cognitive outcomes range between 0.06 and 0.80 standard deviation. We also provide insights on some of the mechanisms of transmission. Our findings suggest that campaigns, programs and policies that reduce tobacco consumption may have positive externalities in terms of improving children’s cognitive and non-cognitive development, and long-term labour market outcomes.
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