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Does Grief Transfer across Generations? - In-Utero Deaths and Child Outcomes

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  • Sandra E Black

    (University of Texas)

  • Paul J Devereux

    (University College Dublin)

  • Kjell G Salvanes

    (Norwegian School of Economics)

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 School Of Economics, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 201405.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: 19 Mar 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:201405

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Keywords: Intergenerational Transmission; Fetal Origins;

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  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. Douglas Almond & Lena Edlund & Mårten Palme, 2009. "Chernobyl's Subclinical Legacy: Prenatal Exposure to Radioactive Fallout and School Outcomes in Sweden," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1729-1772, November.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Tara Watson & Angela Fertig, 2008. "Minimum Drinking Age Laws and Infant Health Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 14118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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.
  10. Anna Aizer & Laura Stroud & Stephen Buka, 2012. "Maternal Stress and Child Outcomes: Evidence from Siblings," NBER Working Papers 18422, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Scholte, Robert & van den Berg, Gerard J. & Lindeboom, Maarten, 2012. "Long-Run Effects of Gestation During the Dutch Hunger Winter Famine on Labor Market and Hospitalization Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 6307, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Janet Currie, 2011. "Inequality at Birth: Some Causes and Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 1-22, May.
  13. 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.
  14. Janet Currie & Maya Rossin-Slater, 2012. "Weathering the Storm: Hurricanes and Birth Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 18070, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Florencia Torche, 2011. "The Effect of Maternal Stress on Birth Outcomes: Exploiting a Natural Experiment," Demography, Springer, vol. 48(4), pages 1473-1491, November.
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