Bombs and Babies: Us Navy Bombing Activity and Infant Health in Vieques, Puerto Rico

36 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2016 Last revised: 19 Dec 2016

See all articles by Gustavo J. Bobonis

Gustavo J. Bobonis

University of Toronto - Department of Economics

Mark Stabile

INSEAD; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Leonardo Tovar

University of Toronto - School of Public Policy and Governance

Date Written: December 2016

Abstract

We study the relationship between in utero exposure to military exercises and children’s early-life health outcomes in a no-war zone. This allows us to document non-economic impacts of military activity on neonatal health outcomes. We combine monthly data on tonnage of ordnance in the context of naval exercises in Vieques, Puerto Rico, with the universe of births in Puerto Rico between 1990 and 2000; studying this setting is useful because these exercises have no negative consequences for local economic activity. We find that a one standard deviation increase in exposure to bombing activity leads to a three per thousand point (70 percent) increase in extremely premature births; a three to seven per thousand point – 34 to 77 percent – increase in the incidence of congenital anomalies; and a five per thousand point increase in low APGAR scores (38 percent). The evidence is generally consistent with the channel of environmental pollution. Given the well-documented relationship between neonatal health and later life outcomes, there is reason to believe that our substantial short-term effects may have longer-term consequences for this population.

Suggested Citation

Bobonis, Gustavo J. and Stabile, Mark and Tovar, Leonardo, Bombs and Babies: Us Navy Bombing Activity and Infant Health in Vieques, Puerto Rico (December 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w22909. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2883925

Gustavo J. Bobonis (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Department of Economics ( email )

150 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G7
Canada

Mark Stabile

INSEAD ( email )

Boulevard de Constance
F-77305 Fontainebleau Cedex
France

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Leonardo Tovar

University of Toronto - School of Public Policy and Governance ( email )

University of Toronto Canadiana Building Room 305
14 Queen's Park Cresent West
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3K9
Canada

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
6
Abstract Views
227
PlumX Metrics