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Infant health production functions: what a difference the data make

  • Nancy E. Reichman

    (Department of Pediatrics, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ, USA)

  • Hope Corman
  • Kelly Noonan
  • Dhaval Dave

We examine the extent to which infant health production functions are sensitive to model specification and measurement error. We focus on the importance of typically unobserved but theoretically important variables (typically unobserved variables, TUVs), other non-standard covariates (NSCs), input reporting, and characterization of infant health. The TUVs represent wantedness, taste for risky behavior, and maternal health endowment. The NSCs include father characteristics. We estimate the effects of prenatal drug use, prenatal cigarette smoking, and first trimester prenatal care on birth weight, low birth weight, and a measure of abnormal infant health conditions. We compare estimates using self-reported inputs versus input measures that combine information from medical records and self-reports. We find that TUVs and NSCs are significantly associated with both inputs and outcomes, but that excluding them from infant health production functions does not appreciably affect the input estimates. However, using self-reported inputs leads to overestimated effects of inputs, particularly prenatal care, on outcomes, and using a direct measure of infant health does not always yield input estimates similar to those when using birth weight outcomes. The findings have implications for research, data collection, and public health policy. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/hec.1402
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Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 18 (2009)
Issue (Month): 7 ()
Pages: 761-782

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Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:18:y:2009:i:7:p:761-782
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/5749

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  1. Reichman, Nancy E. & Teitler, Julien O. & Garfinkel, Irwin & McLanahan, Sara S., 2001. "Fragile Families: sample and design," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(4-5), pages 303-326.
  2. Evans, William N. & Lien, Diana S., 2005. "The benefits of prenatal care: evidence from the PAT bus strike," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 207-239.
  3. Chaikind, Stephen & Corman, Hope, 1991. "The impact of low birthweight on special education costs," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 291-311, October.
  4. Anne Case & Angela Fertig & Christina Paxson, 2004. "The Lasting Impact of Childhood Health and Circumstance," Working Papers 246, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  5. Janet Currie & Patricia B. Reagan, 2003. "Distance to Hospital and Children's Use of Preventive Care: Is Being Closer Better, and for Whom?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 41(3), pages 378-391, July.
  6. Conway, Karen Smith & Deb, Partha, 2005. "Is prenatal care really ineffective? Or, is the 'devil' in the distribution?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 489-513, May.
  7. Karen Smith Conway & Lisa DeFelice Kennedy, 2004. "Maternal Depression and the Production of Infant Health," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 71(2), pages 260-286, October.
  8. Robert Moffitt, 2005. "Remarks on the analysis of causal relationships in population research," Demography, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 91-108, February.
  9. Robert Kaestner & Theodore Joyce & Hassan Wehbeh, 1996. "The Effect of Maternal Drug Use on Birth Weight: Measurement Error in Binary Variables," NBER Working Papers 5434, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Kelly Noonan & Nancy E. Reichman & Hope Corman & Dhaval Dave, 2005. "Prenatal Drug Use and the Production of Infant Health," NBER Working Papers 11433, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Rashad, Inas & Kaestner, Robert, 2004. "Teenage sex, drugs and alcohol use: problems identifying the cause of risky behaviors," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 493-503, May.
  12. Geoffrey Warner, 2003. "The association between maternal depression and prenatal care adequacy," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 39-53, December.
  13. Hope Corman & Theodore J. Joyce & Michael Grossman, 1987. "Birth Outcome Production Function in the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 22(3), pages 339-360.
  14. Robert Weller & Isaac Eberstein & Mohamed Bailey, 1987. "Pregnancy Wantedness And Maternal Behavior During Pregnancy," Demography, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 407-412, August.
  15. Diana S. Lien & William N. Evans, 2005. "Estimating the Impact of Large Cigarette Tax Hikes: The Case of Maternal Smoking and Infant Birth Weight," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(2).
  16. Robert Kaestner & Hope Corman, 1995. "The Impact of Child Health and Family Inputs on Child Cognitive Develop-ment," NBER Working Papers 5257, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Theodore Joyce & Michael Grossman, 1990. "Pregnancy wantedness and the early initiation of prenatal care," Demography, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 1-17, February.
  18. Ted Joyce & Robert Kaestner & Sanders Korenman, 2002. "On the validity of retrospective assessments of pregnancy intention," Demography, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 199-213, February.
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