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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

    (Pharmacotherapy Outcomes Research Center, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:19:y:2010:i:10:p:1181-1192
    DOI: 10.1002/hec.1544
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/hec.1544
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lam, David & Schoeni, Robert F, 1993. "Effects of Family Background on Earnings and Returns to Schooling: Evidence from Brazil," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(4), pages 710-740, August.
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    3. Mark R. Rosenzweig & Junsen Zhang, 2009. "Do Population Control Policies Induce More Human Capital Investment? Twins, Birth Weight and China's "One-Child" Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(3), pages 1149-1174.
    4. James Heckman & Flavio Cunha, 2007. "The Technology of Skill Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 31-47, May.
    5. Case, Anne & Fertig, Angela & Paxson, Christina, 2005. "The lasting impact of childhood health and circumstance," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 365-389, March.
    6. Erica M. Field & Omar Robles & Máximo Torero, 2008. "The Cognitive Link Between Geography and Development: Iodine Deficiency and Schooling Attainment in Tanzania," NBER Working Papers 13838, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2004. "Returns to Birthweight," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 586-601, May.
    8. Hoyt Bleakley, 2007. "Disease and Development: Evidence from Hookworm Eradication in the American South," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 73-117.
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    Cited by:

    1. Karlsson, Martin & Nilsson, Therese & Pichler, Stefan, 2012. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger? The impact of the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic on economic performance in Sweden," Darmstadt Discussion Papers in Economics 211, Darmstadt University of Technology, Department of Law and Economics.
    2. Manuel Flores & Adriaan Kalwij, 2014. "The associations between early life circumstances and later life health and employment in Europe," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 47(4), pages 1251-1282, December.
    3. John Parman, 2013. "Childhood Health and Sibling Outcomes: The Shared Burden and Benefit of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic," NBER Working Papers 19505, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Tom S. Vogl, 2012. "Education and Health in Developing Economies," Working Papers 1453, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
    5. Bejenariu, Simona & Mitrut, Andreea, 2012. "Austerity Measures and Infant Health. Lessons from an Unexpected Wage Cut Policy," Working Paper Series 2012:4, Uppsala University, Department of Economics, revised 10 Oct 2013.
    6. Almond, Douglas & Currie, Janet & Herrmann, Mariesa, 2012. "From infant to mother: Early disease environment and future maternal health," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 475-483.
    7. Karlsson, Martin & Nilsson, Therese & Pichler, Stefan, 2014. "The impact of the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic on economic performance in Sweden," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 1-19.
    8. Parman, John, 2015. "Childhood health and sibling outcomes: Nurture Reinforcing nature during the 1918 influenza pandemic," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 22-43.
    9. Lin, Ming-Jen & Liu, Elaine M., 2014. "Does in utero exposure to Illness matter? The 1918 influenza epidemic in Taiwan as a natural experiment," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 152-163.
    10. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Casper Worm Hansen & Holger Strulik, 2017. "Accounting for Fetal Origins: Health Capital vs. Health Deficits," Discussion Papers 17-11, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    11. Bengtsson, Tommy & Helgertz, Jonas, 2015. "The Long Lasting Influenza: The Impact of Fetal Stress during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic on Socioeconomic Attainment and Health in Sweden 1968-2012," IZA Discussion Papers 9327, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. repec:pri:rpdevs:currie_vogl_ar is not listed on IDEAS
    13. repec:eee:socmed:v:181:y:2017:i:c:p:43-53 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Riggs, Paul & Cuff, Timothy, 2013. "Ladies from Hell, Aberdeen Free Gardeners, and the Russian influenza: An anthropometric analysis of WWI-era Scottish soldiers and civilians," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 69-77.
    15. Clay, Karen & Lewis, Joshua & Severnini, Edson R., 2015. "Pollution, Infectious Disease, and Mortality: Evidence from the 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic," IZA Discussion Papers 9399, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    16. Wilman Javier Iglesias Pinedo & Bladimir Carrillo Bermudez, 2016. "Month Of Birth And Socioeconomic Outcomes Of Adults: Evidence From Brazil," Anais do XLIII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 43rd Brazilian Economics Meeting] 196, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].

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