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Weathering the storm: Hurricanes and birth outcomes

  • Currie, Janet
  • Rossin-Slater, Maya

A growing literature suggests that stressful events in pregnancy can have negative effects on birth outcomes. Some of the estimates in this literature may be affected by small samples, omitted variables, endogenous mobility in response to disasters, and errors in the measurement of gestation, as well as by a mechanical correlation between longer gestation and the probability of having been exposed. We use millions of individual birth records to examine the effects of exposure to hurricanes during pregnancy, and the sensitivity of the estimates to these econometric problems. We find that exposure to a hurricane during pregnancy increases the probability of abnormal conditions of the newborn such as being on a ventilator more than 30min and meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS). Although we are able to reproduce previous estimates of effects on birth weight and gestation, our results suggest that measured effects of stressful events on these outcomes are sensitive to specification and it is preferable to use more sensitive indicators of newborn health.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 32 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 487-503

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:32:y:2013:i:3:p:487-503
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560

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  1. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2006. "From the cradle to the labor market? The effect of birth weight on adult outcomes," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19425, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie, 2010. "Human Capital Development Before Age Five," NBER Working Papers 15827, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Yang Dean, 2008. "Coping with Disaster: The Impact of Hurricanes on International Financial Flows, 1970-2002," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-45, June.
  4. Janet Currie, 2011. "Inequality at Birth: Some Causes and Consequences," NBER Working Papers 16798, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Olivier Deschenes & Enrico Moretti, 2007. "Extreme Weather Events, Mortality and Migration," NBER Working Papers 13227, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Florencia Torche, 2011. "The Effect of Maternal Stress on Birth Outcomes: Exploiting a Natural Experiment," Demography, Springer, vol. 48(4), pages 1473-1491, November.
  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. Janet Currie & Matthew Neidell, 2005. "Air Pollution and Infant Health: What Can We Learn from California's Recent Experience?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 1003-1030, August.
  9. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie, 2011. "Killing Me Softly: The Fetal Origins Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 153-72, Summer.
  10. Emilia Simeonova, 2009. "Out of Sight, Out of Mind? The Impact of Natural Disasters on Pregnancy Outcomes," CESifo Working Paper Series 2814, CESifo Group Munich.
  11. Adriana Camacho, 2008. "Stress and Birth Weight: Evidence from Terrorist Attacks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 511-15, May.
  12. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jeffrey B. Liebman & Lawrence F. Katz, 2005. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects," NBER Working Papers 11577, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Strobl, Eric, 2012. "The economic growth impact of natural disasters in developing countries: Evidence from hurricane strikes in the Central American and Caribbean regions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 130-141.
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