Economic Conditions, Parental Employment and Health of Newborns

59 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2018

See all articles by Gerard J. van den Berg

Gerard J. van den Berg

VU University Amsterdam - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Tinbergen Institute

Alexander Paul

Aarhus University

Steffen Reinhold

E.CA Economics

Abstract

We examine whether economic downturns are beneficial to health outcomes of newborn infants in developed countries. For this we use merged population-wide registers on health and economic and demographic variables, including the national medical birth register and intergenerational link registers from Sweden covering 1992–2004. We take a rigorous econometric approach that exploits regional variation in unemployment and compares babies born to the same parents so as to deal with possible selective fertility based on labor market conditions.We find that downturns are beneficial; for example, a one-percentage-point increase in the unemployment rate during pregnancy reduces the probability of having a birth weight less than 1,500 grams or of dying within 28 days of birth by 10–15%. Effects are larger in low socio-economic status households. Health improvements cannot be attributed to the parents' own employment status. The results suggest pathways through stress and air pollution.

Keywords: recession, unemployment, fertility, infant health, stress

JEL Classification: I1, J1

Suggested Citation

van den Berg, Gerard J. and Paul, Alexander and Reinhold, Steffen, Economic Conditions, Parental Employment and Health of Newborns. IZA Discussion Paper No. 11338. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3129282

Gerard J. Van den Berg (Contact Author)

VU University Amsterdam - Department of Economics ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
Netherlands
+31 20 444 6132 (Phone)
+32 20 444 6020 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Tinbergen Institute

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, 3062 PA
Netherlands

Alexander Paul

Aarhus University

Steffen Reinhold

E.CA Economics ( email )

Schlossplatz 1
Berlin, 10178
Germany

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