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Where Have All the Young Men Gone? Using Gender Ratios to Measure Fetal Death Rates

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  • Nicholas J. Sanders
  • Charles F. Stoecker

Abstract

Fetal health is an important consideration in the formation of health-based policy. However, a complete census of true fetal deaths is impossible to obtain. We present the gender ratio of live births as an under-exploited metric of fetal health and apply it to examine the effects of air quality on fetal health. Males are more vulnerable to side effects of maternal stress in utero, and thus are more likely to suffer fetal death due to pollution exposure. We demonstrate this metric in the context of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1970 (CAAA) which provide a source of exogenous variation in county-level ambient total suspended particulate matter (TSPs). We find that a standard deviation increase in annual average TSPs (approximately 35 μg/m 3) decreases the percentage of live births that are male by 3.1 percentage points. We then explore the use of observed differences in neonatal and one-year mortality rates across genders in response to pollution exposure as a metric to estimate total fetal losses in utero. These calculations suggest the pollution reductions from the CAAA prevented approximately 21,000-134,000 fetal deaths in 1972.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17434.

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Date of creation: Sep 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17434

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  1. Janet Currie & Reed Walker, 2011. "Traffic Congestion and Infant Health: Evidence from E-ZPass," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 65-90, January.
  2. Christopher R. Knittel & Douglas L. Miller & Nicholas J. Sanders, 2011. "Caution, Drivers! Children Present: Traffic, Pollution, and Infant Health," NBER Working Papers 17222, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Neidell, Matthew J., 2004. "Air pollution, health, and socio-economic status: the effect of outdoor air quality on childhood asthma," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 1209-1236, November.
  4. Janet Currie & Matthew J. Neidell & Johannes Schmieder, 2008. "Air Pollution and Infant Health: Lessons from New Jersey," NBER Working Papers 14196, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Nicholas J. Sanders, 2011. "What Doesn't Kill you Makes you Weaker: Prenatal Pollution Exposure and Educational Outcomes," Discussion Papers 10-019, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  6. 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.
  7. Kasey S. Buckles & Daniel M. Hungerman, 2013. "Season of Birth and Later Outcomes: Old Questions, New Answers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(3), pages 711-724, July.
  8. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 2003. "Air Quality, Infant Mortality, and the Clean Air Act of 1970," Working Papers 0406, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.
  9. Janet Currie & Johannes F. Schmieder, 2008. "Fetal Exposure to Toxic Releases and Infant Health," NBER Working Papers 14352, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Douglas Almond & Lena Edlund & Marten Palme, 2007. "Chernobyl's Subclinical Legacy: Prenatal Exposure to Radioactive Fallout and School Outcomes in Sweden," Discussion Papers 0607-19, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  11. Chay, Kenneth & Dobkin, Carlos & Greenstone, Michael, 2003. " The Clean Air Act of 1970 and Adult Mortality," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 279-300, December.
  12. Karen Clay & Werner Troesken & Michael R. Haines, 2010. "Lead and Mortality," NBER Working Papers 16480, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. W. Reed Walker, 2011. "Environmental Regulation and Labor Reallocation: Evidence from the Clean Air Act," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 442-47, May.
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