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Weathering the storm: Hurricanes and birth outcomes

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  • Currie, Janet
  • Rossin-Slater, Maya

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Currie, Janet & Rossin-Slater, Maya, 2013. "Weathering the storm: Hurricanes and birth outcomes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 487-503.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:32:y:2013:i:3:p:487-503
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2013.01.004
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    1. 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.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Stress; Pregnancy; Disaster; Birth weight; Gestation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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