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Does grief transfer across generations? In-utero deaths and child outcomes

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Author Info

  • Black, Sandra E.

    ()
    (University of Texas)

  • Devereux, Paul J.

    ()
    (University College Dublin)

  • Salvanes, Kjell G.

    ()
    (Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration)

Abstract

While much is now known about the effects of physical health shocks to pregnant women on the outcomes of the in-utero child, we know little about the effects of psychological stresses. One clear form of stress to the mother comes from the death of a parent. We examine the effects of the death of the mother’s parent during pregnancy on both the short-run and the long-run outcomes of the infant. Our primary specification involves using mother fixed effects— comparing the outcomes of two children with the same mother but where a parent of the mother died during one of the pregnancies—augmented with a control for whether there is a death around the time of the pregnancy in order to isolate true causal effects of a bereavement during pregnancy. We find small negative effects on birth outcomes, and these effects are bigger for boys than for girls. The effects on birth outcomes seems to be driven by deaths due to cardiovascular causes suggesting that sudden deaths are more difficult to deal with. However, we find no evidence of adverse effects on adult outcomes. The results are robust to alternative specifications.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics in its series Discussion Paper Series in Economics with number 23/2014.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: 30 Jun 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:nhheco:2014_023

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Postal: NHH, Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway
Phone: +47 55 959 277
Fax: 5595 9100
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Web page: http://www.nhh.no/sam/
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Keywords: Intergenerational mobility; grief; children; health shocks.;

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  1. Douglas Almond & Lena Edlund & Mårten Palme, 2007. "Chernobyl's Subclinical Legacy: Prenatal Exposure to Radioactive Fallout and School Outcomes in Sweden," NBER Working Papers 13347, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Diane Lauderdale, 2006. "Birth outcomes for Arabic-named women in California before and after September 11," Demography, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 185-201, February.
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  4. Currie, Janet & Rossin-Slater, Maya, 2013. "Weathering the storm: Hurricanes and birth outcomes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 487-503.
  5. Douglas Almond & Lena Edlund & Hongbin Li & Junsen Zhang, 2007. "Long-Term Effects Of The 1959-1961 China Famine: Mainland China and Hong Kong," NBER Working Papers 13384, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Currie, Janet & Neidell, Matthew & Schmieder, Johannes F., 2009. "Air pollution and infant health: Lessons from New Jersey," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 688-703, May.
  7. Black, Sandra E. & Devereux, Paul J. & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2005. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 1864, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Black, Sandra & Bütikofer, Aline & Devereux, Paul J. & Salvanes, Kjell G, 2013. "This Is Only a Test? Long-Run Impacts of Prenatal Exposure to Radioactive Fallout," CEPR Discussion Papers 9443, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Janet Currie, 2011. "Inequality at Birth: Some Causes and Consequences," NBER Working Papers 16798, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  11. Elaine Kelly, 2011. "The Scourge of Asian Flu: In utero Exposure to Pandemic Influenza and the Development of a Cohort of British Children," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(4), pages 669-694.
  12. Emilia Simeonova, 2011. "Out of Sight, Out of Mind? Natural Disasters and Pregnancy Outcomes in the USA," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 57(3), pages 403-431, September.
  13. Florencia Torche, 2011. "The Effect of Maternal Stress on Birth Outcomes: Exploiting a Natural Experiment," Demography, Springer, vol. 48(4), pages 1473-1491, November.
  14. Robert S. Scholte & Gerard J. van den Berg & Maarten Lindeboom, 2012. "Long-Run Effects of Gestation during the Dutch Hunger Winter Famine on Labor Market and Hospitalization Outcomes," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 12-013/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  15. Tara Watson & Angela Fertig, 2008. "Minimum Drinking Age Laws and Infant Health Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 14118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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