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The hidden costs of terrorism: The effects on health at birth

Author

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  • Quintana-Domeque, Climent
  • Ródenas-Serrano, Pedro

Abstract

We study the effects of in utero exposure to terrorism in Spain on birth outcomes, focusing on terrorism perpetrated by ETA during the period 1980–2003. We find that in utero exposure to terrorism early in pregnancy, as measured by the number of bomb casualties in the mother's province of residence in the first trimester of pregnancy, has detrimental effects on birth outcomes: in terms of average birth weight (lower), prevalence of low birth weight (higher) and fraction of “normal” babies (lower). While our findings are robust to a host of potential threats to validity, they seem to be driven by exposure to a relatively large number of bomb casualties. Focusing on the deadliest ETA terrorist attack, the Hipercor bombing of 1987 in Barcelona, we find substantial effects on birth outcomes. We then attempt to assess the mechanisms at stake by presenting evidence suggesting that exposure to bomb casualties decreases self-reported health and increases smoking among women, but not among men. While exposure to terrorism during conception does not affect total fertility, there seems to be a compositional change: during bombing periods, those women who conceive are more likely to be married, and married women tend to have better birth outcomes, on average. In addition, we find that exposure to bomb casualties increases fetal deaths. Thus, we interpret our estimated negative effects on health at birth as providing lower bounds to the true effects of in utero exposure to terrorism.

Suggested Citation

  • Quintana-Domeque, Climent & Ródenas-Serrano, Pedro, 2017. "The hidden costs of terrorism: The effects on health at birth," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 47-60.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:56:y:2017:i:c:p:47-60
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2017.08.006
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Caroline Chuard, 2018. "Womb at work: the missing impact of maternal employment on newborn health," ECON - Working Papers 301, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    2. Shirlee Lichtman-Sadot & Neta Benshalom-Tirosh & Eyal Sheiner, 2020. "Conflict, Rockets, and Birth Outcomes: Evidence from Israel’s Operation Protective Edge," Working Papers 2009, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Economics.
    3. Fredah Guantai & Yoko Kijima, 2020. "Ethnic Violence and Birth Outcomes: Evidence From Exposure to the 1992 Conflict in Kenya," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 57(2), pages 423-444, April.
    4. Álvarez-Aranda, Rocío & Chirkova, Serafima & Romero, José Gabriel, 2020. "Growing in the womb: The effect of seismic activity on fetal growth," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 36(C).
    5. Le, Kien & Nguyen, My, 2019. "Armed Conflict and Birth Weight," MPRA Paper 102162, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Khoa Vu & Maria C. Lo Bue, 2019. "Intergenerational mobility of education in Vietnam: Evidence from the Vietnam War," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2019-67, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    7. Mrejen, Matias & Perelman, Julian & Machado, Danielle Carusi, 2020. "Environmental disasters and birth outcomes: Impact of a tailings dam breakage in Brazil," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 250(C).
    8. Viviane Sanfelice, 2020. "Mosquito-Borne Disease and Newborn Health," DETU Working Papers 2001, Department of Economics, Temple University.
    9. Ryan Brown, 2020. "The Intergenerational Impact of Terror: Did the 9/11 Tragedy Impact the Initial Human Capital of the Next Generation?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 57(4), pages 1459-1481, August.
    10. Rosales-Rueda, Maria, 2018. "The impact of early life shocks on human capital formation: evidence from El Niño floods in Ecuador," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 13-44.
    11. Grossman, Daniel & Khalil, Umair & Ray, Arijit, 2019. "Terrorism and early childhood health outcomes: Evidence from Pakistan," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 237(C), pages 1-1.
    12. Kyriopoulos, Ilias & Nikoloski, Zlatko & Mossialos, Elias, 2019. "Does economic recession impact newborn health? Evidence from Greece," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 237(C), pages 1-1.
    13. Lichtman-Sadot, Shirlee & Benshalom-Tirosh, Neta & Sheiner, Eyal, 2020. "Conflict, Rockets, and Birth Outcomes: Evidence from Israel's Operation Protective Edge," IZA Discussion Papers 13394, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. Ryan Brown, 0. "The Intergenerational Impact of Terror: Did the 9/11 Tragedy Impact the Initial Human Capital of the Next Generation?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 0, pages 1-23.
    15. Jürges Hendrik & Westermaier Franz G., 2020. "Conflict Intensity and Birth Outcomes – Evidence from the West Bank," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 20(2), pages 1-8, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Terrorism; Birth outcomes; Smoking; Maternal stress; Fetal deaths;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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