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Testing the Fetal Origins Hypothesis in a developing country: evidence from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

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  • Richard E. Nelson

Abstract

The 1918 Influenza Pandemic is used as a natural experiment to test the Fetal Origins Hypothesis. This hypothesis states that individual health as well as socioeconomic outcomes, such as educational attainment, employment status, and wages, are affected by the health of that individual while in utero. Repeated cross sections from the Pesquisa Mensal de Emprego (PME), a labor market survey from Brazil, are used to test this hypothesis. I find evidence to support the Fetal Origins Hypothesis. In particular, compared to individuals born in the few years surrounding the Influenza Pandemic, those who were in utero during the pandemic are less likely to be college educated, be employed, have formal employment, or know how to read and have fewer years of schooling and a lower hourly wage. These results underscore the importance of fetal health especially in developing countries. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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  • Richard E. Nelson, 2010. "Testing the Fetal Origins Hypothesis in a developing country: evidence from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(10), pages 1181-1192, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:19:y:2010:i:10:p:1181-1192
    DOI: 10.1002/hec.1544
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