Unemployment and Infant Health: Times-Series Evidence from the State of Tennessee

35 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2010 Last revised: 12 Aug 2010

See all articles by Theodore Joyce

Theodore Joyce

CUNY Baruch College - Zicklin School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Naci H. Mocan

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: May 1991

Abstract

The relationship between unemployment and health continues to absorb social scientists. The primary reason is the potential significance of an association. If a substantial deterioration in aggregate health is related to economic downturns, then the cost of a recession may be much greater than the foregone output. This paper investigates the aggregate time-series relationship between unemployment and low birthweight with monthly data from the state of Tennessee from 1970 through 1989. The study differs from previous work in that we decompose the unemployment rate into its structural and cyclical components. Moreover, we use vector autoregressions to test the reduced form relationship between unemployment and low birthweight. The well-defined exogeneity of unemployment and the lag length restriction imposed by the duration of a pregnancy strengthens the specification considerably. We fail to find a relationship between unemployment and low birthweight. This basic finding remains unchanged irrespective of whether we test structural or cyclical unemployment, or whether we use total or race-specific rates of low birthweight.

Suggested Citation

Joyce, Theodore J. and Mocan, Naci H., Unemployment and Infant Health: Times-Series Evidence from the State of Tennessee (May 1991). NBER Working Paper No. w3694, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1656712

Theodore J. Joyce (Contact Author)

CUNY Baruch College - Zicklin School of Business ( email )

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New York, NY 10010
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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New York, NY 10016-4309
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Naci H. Mocan

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge - Department of Economics ( email )

Department of economics
Baton Rouge, LA 70803-6308
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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