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The effect of prenatal care on birthweight: a full-information maximum likelihood approach

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  • Jeffrey J. Rous

    (Department of Economics, University of North Texas, USA)

  • R. Todd Jewell

    (Department of Economics, University of North Texas, USA)

  • Robert W. Brown

    (California State University, San Marcos, USA)

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    Abstract

    This paper uses a full-information maximum likelihood estimation procedure, the Discrete Factor Method, to estimate the relationship between birthweight and prenatal care. This technique controls for the potential biases surrounding both the sample selection of the pregnancy-resolution decision and the endogeneity of prenatal care. In addition, we use the actual number of prenatal care visits; other studies have normally measured prenatal care as the month care is initiated. We estimate a birthweight production function using 1993 data from the US state of Texas. The results underscore the importance of correcting for estimation problems. Specifically, a model that does not control for sample selection and endogeneity overestimates the benefit of an additional visit for women who have relatively few visits. This overestimation may indicate 'positive fetal selection,' i.e., women who did not abort may have healthier babies. Also, a model that does not control for self-selection and endogenity predicts that past 17 visits, an additional visit leads to lower birthweight, while a model that corrects for these estimation problems predicts a positive effect for additional visits. This result shows the effect of mothers with less healthy fetuses making more prenatal care visits, known as 'adverse selection' in prenatal care. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Health Economics.

    Volume (Year): 13 (2004)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 251-264

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    Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:13:y:2004:i:3:p:251-264

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    Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/5749

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    1. Liu, Gordon G, 1995. "An Economic Analysis of Pregnancy Resolution in Virginia: Specific as to Race and Residence," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 253-64, August.
    2. Jeffrey E. Harris, 1982. "Prenatal Medical Care and Infant Mortality," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Aspects of Health, pages 13-52 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Richard G. Frank & Donna M. Strobino & David S. Salkever & Catherine A. Jackson, 1992. "Updated Estimates of the Impact of Prenatal Care on Birthweight Outcomes by Race," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(4), pages 629-642.
    4. Hope Corman & Theodore J. Joyce & Michael Grossman, 1985. "Birth Outcome Production Functions in the U.S," NBER Working Papers 1729, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Wolpin, Kenneth I., 1991. "Inequality at birth : The scope for policy intervention," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1-2), pages 205-228, October.
    6. Willis, Robert J, 1973. "A New Approach to the Economic Theory of Fertility Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages S14-64, Part II, .
    7. Mark R. Rosenzweig & T. Paul Schultz, 1988. "The Stability of Household Production Technology: A Replication," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(4), pages 535-549.
    8. Hope Corman & Theodore J. Joyce & Michael Grossman, 1987. "Birth Outcome Production Function in the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 22(3), pages 339-360.
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    Cited by:
    1. Mansour, Hani & Rees, Daniel I., 2012. "Armed conflict and birth weight: Evidence from the al-Aqsa Intifada," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 190-199.
    2. Wehby, George L. & Murray, Jeffrey C. & Castilla, Eduardo E. & Lopez-Camelo, Jorge S. & Ohsfeldt, Robert L., 2009. "Prenatal care demand and its effects on birth outcomes by birth defect status in Argentina," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 84-95, March.
    3. R. Todd Jewell & Patricia Triunfo, 2006. "Bajo peso al nacer en Uruguay: implicaciones para las políticas de salud," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 1706, Department of Economics - dECON.
    4. George L. Wehby & Jeffrey C. Murray & Eduardo E. Castilla & Jorge S. Lopez-Camelo & Robert L. Ohsfeldt, 2009. "Quantile effects of prenatal care utilization on birth weight in Argentina," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(11), pages 1307-1321.
    5. Bejenariu, Simona & Mitrut, Andreea, 2014. "Bridging the Gap for Roma Women: The Effects of a Health Mediation Program on Roma Prenatal Care and Child Health," Working Papers in Economics 590, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.

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