Date of Graduation

Spring 5-18-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in International and Development Economics (MSIDEC)


College of Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Bruce Wydick


Cleft lip and/or cleft palate (CL/P) are birth conditions in which a newborn has an opening in the roof of their mouth or a slit in their upper lip. Left untreated, CL/P can lead to speech impediments and an unsightly orofacial deformity. However, a sequence of simple, common surgical procedures can restore function with minimal scarring. To date, the psychological effects of being born with CL/P have been investigated in the literature, but the restorative impact of CL/P surgery on psychological wellbeing has not been rigorously evaluated. This study uses a quasi-experimental approach to estimate the impact of being born with CL/P on outcomes including anxiety, depression, self esteem, hope and an index of overall psychological well-being, as well as the impact of receiving reparative surgery prior to one’s teenage years. The results show that a one-level increase in the severity of a child’s CL/P is associated with a .074 standard deviation loss in overall psychological wellbeing. The study’s key finding is that the average CL/P surgery improves psychological wellbeing by an estimated .237 standard deviations, more than 310% of the loss associated with increasing CL/P severity.