Immigration Enforcement and Infant Health

44 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2020

See all articles by Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes

Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes

San Diego State University - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Brandyn Churchill

Vanderbilt University

Yang Song

Colgate University - Economics Department


The past two decades have been characterized by an unprecedented increase in interior immigration enforcement and heightened stress due to fears of family separation and loss of income among undocumented immigrants. Using vital statistics on infant births from the National Center of Health Statistics for the 2003 through 2016 period and a difference-in-differences design, we compare the health outcomes of infants with likely undocumented mothers before and after the intensification of immigration enforcement within U.S. counties. We find that intensified enforcement, especially during the third trimester, increases the likelihood of low birth weight (<2500 grams). We also present suggestive evidence that the effect could be driven by heightened stress and fears associated to police-based enforcement during pregnancy. The findings underscore the importance of current immigration policies in shaping the birth outcomes of many American children.

JEL Classification: I10, I12, K37

Suggested Citation

Amuedo-Dorantes, Catalina and Churchill, Brandyn and Song, Yang, Immigration Enforcement and Infant Health. IZA Discussion Paper No. 13908, Available at SSRN: or

Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes (Contact Author)

San Diego State University - Department of Economics ( email )

5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182
United States
619-594-1663 (Phone)
619-594-5062 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Brandyn Churchill

Vanderbilt University ( email )

United States

Yang Song

Colgate University - Economics Department ( email )

13 Oak Drive
Hamilton, NY 13346
United States

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