IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/wly/hlthec/v21y2012i3p301-315.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

What is driving the black–white difference in low birthweight in the US?

Author

Listed:
  • Aparna Lhila
  • Sharon Long

Abstract

This is a first effort to quantify the contribution of different factors in explaining racial difference in low birthweight rate (LBW). Mother's health, child characteristics, prenatal care, socioeconomic status (SES), and the socioeconomic and healthcare environment of mother's community are important inputs into the birthweight production function, and a vast literature has delved into obtaining causal estimates of their effect on infant health. What is unknown is how much of the racial gap in LBW is explained by all these inputs together. We apply a nonlinear extension of the Oaxaca–Blinder method proposed by Fairlie to decompose this gap into the portion explained by differences in observed characteristics and the portion that remains unexplained. Data are obtained from several sources in order to capture as many observables as possible, although the primary data source is the Natality Detail Files. Results show that of the 6.8 percentage point racial gap in LBW, only 0.9–1.9 points are explained by white–black differences in endowments across those measures, and of those endowments, most of the gap in LBW is explained by the differences in SES. The unexplained difference is attributed to racial differences in the returns to or the marginal product of investments in infant health. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Aparna Lhila & Sharon Long, 2012. "What is driving the black–white difference in low birthweight in the US?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(3), pages 301-315, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:21:y:2012:i:3:p:301-315
    DOI: 10.1002/hec.1715
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1002/hec.1715
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1002/hec.1715?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Rajeev Dehejia & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2004. "Booms, Busts, and Babies' Health," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 1091-1130.
    2. Currie, Janet & Grogger, Jeffrey, 2002. "Medicaid expansions and welfare contractions: offsetting effects on prenatal care and infant health?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 313-335, March.
    3. Rauh, V.A. & Andrews, H.F. & Garfinkel, R.S., 2001. "The contribution of maternal age to racial disparities in birthweight: A multilevel perspective," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 91(11), pages 1815-1824.
    4. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1.
    5. Anna Aizer & Adriana Lleras-Muney & Mark Stabile, 2004. "Access to Care, Provider Choice and Racial Disparities," NBER Working Papers 10445, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Theodore Joyce, 1994. "Self-Selection, Prenatal Care, and Birthweight among Blacks, Whites, and Hispanics in New York City," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(3), pages 762-794.
    7. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:pri:cheawb:adriana_booms.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Fairlie, Robert W, 1999. "The Absence of the African-American Owned Business: An Analysis of the Dynamics of Self-Employment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 80-108, January.
    10. Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2003. "Mother's Education and the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital: Evidence from College Openings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1495-1532.
    11. Richard G. Frank & Donna M. Strobino & David S. Salkever & Catherine A. Jackson, 1992. "Updated Estimates of the Impact of Prenatal Care on Birthweight Outcomes by Race," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(4), pages 629-642.
    12. William J. Collins & Melissa A. Thomasson, 2004. "The Declining Contribution of Socioeconomic Disparities to the Racial Gap in Infant Mortality Rates, 1920–1970," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 70(4), pages 746-776, April.
    13. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Osmani, Siddiq & Sen, Amartya, 2003. "The hidden penalties of gender inequality: fetal origins of ill-health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 105-121, January.
    15. James Cramer, 1995. "Racial and Ethnic Differences in Birthweight: The Role of Income and Financial Assistance," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 32(2), pages 231-247, May.
    16. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-255, March-Apr.
    17. Rosemary Hyson & Janet Currie, 1999. "Is the Impact of Health Shocks Cushioned by Socioeconomic Status? The Case of Low Birthweight," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 245-250, May.
    18. 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.
    19. Grossman, Michael & Joyce, Theodore J, 1990. "Unobservables, Pregnancy Resolutions, and Birth Weight Production Functions in New York City," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 983-1007, October.
    20. Waldron, Ingrid & Hughes, Mary Elizabeth & Brooks, Tracy L., 1996. "Marriage protection and marriage selection--Prospective evidence for reciprocal effects of marital status and health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 113-123, July.
    21. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
    22. Costa, Dora L., 2004. "Race and Pregnancy Outcomes in the Twentieth Century: A Long-Term Comparison," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 1056-1086, December.
    23. Jason Abrevaya, 2001. "The effects of demographics and maternal behavior on the distribution of birth outcomes," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 247-257.
    24. Kaestner, Robert & Dubay, Lisa & Kenney, Genevieve, 2005. "Managed care and infant health: an evaluation of Medicaid in the US," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(8), pages 1815-1833, April.
    25. Warner, Geoffrey L, 1995. "Prenatal Care Demand and Birthweight Production of Black Mothers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 132-137, May.
    26. Geoffrey Warner, 1998. "Birthweight Productivity of Prenatal Care," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 65(1), pages 42-63, July.
    27. Mayer, Susan E. & Sarin, Ankur, 2005. "Some mechanisms linking economic inequality and infant mortality," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 439-455, February.
    28. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2002. "Economic Status and Health in Childhood: The Origins of the Gradient," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1308-1334, December.
    29. Geronimus, Arline T., 1996. "Black/white differences in the relationship of maternal age to birthweight: A population-based test of the weathering hypothesis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 589-597, February.
    30. repec:pri:cheawb:adriana_booms is not listed on IDEAS
    31. Andrea Kutinova & Karen Smith Conway, 2008. "What about Mom? The Forgotten Beneficiary of the Medicaid Expansions," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 74(4), pages 1070-1104, April.
    32. 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.
    33. 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.
    34. Lhila, Aparna, 2009. "Does government provision of healthcare explain the relationship between income inequality and low birthweight?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(8), pages 1236-1245, October.
    35. Hope Corman, 1995. "The Effects of Low Birthweight and Other Medical Risk Factors on Resource Utilization in the Pre-School Years," NBER Working Papers 5273, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    36. Behrman, Jere R & Rosenzweig, Mark R & Taubman, Paul, 1994. "Endowments and the Allocation of Schooling in the Family and in the Marriage Market: The Twins Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1131-1174, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Antonio Di Paolo & Joan Gil Trasfi & Athina Raftopoulou, 2018. "“What drives regional differences in BMI? Evidence from Spain”," AQR Working Papers 201805, University of Barcelona, Regional Quantitative Analysis Group, revised Apr 2018.
    2. Samuel H. Fishman & S. Philip Morgan & Robert A. Hummer, 2018. "Smoking and Variation in the Hispanic Paradox: A Comparison of Low Birthweight Across 33 US States," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 37(5), pages 795-824, October.
    3. Beimer, Waldemar & Maennig, Wolfgang, 2020. "On the price gap between single family houses and apartments," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C).
    4. Faraz Vahid Shahidi & Carles Muntaner & Ketan Shankardass & Carlos Quiñonez & Arjumand Siddiqi, 2018. "Widening health inequalities between the employed and the unemployed: A decomposition of trends in Canada (2000-2014)," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 13(11), pages 1-22, November.
    5. María Laura Arrosa & Néstor Gandelman, 2016. "Happiness Decomposition: Female Optimism," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 731-756, April.
    6. Conway, Karen Smith & Trudeau, Jennifer, 2019. "Sunshine, fertility and racial disparities," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 18-39.
    7. Aoife Brick & Anne Nolan, 2014. "Maternal Country of Birth Differences in Breastfeeding at Hospital Discharge in Ireland," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 45(4), pages 455-484.
    8. Jennifer B. Kane & Claire Margerison-Zilko, 2017. "Theoretical Insights into Preconception Social Conditions and Perinatal Health: The Role of Place and Social Relationships," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 36(5), pages 639-669, October.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Hope Corman & Dhaval Dave & Nancy E. Reichman, 2018. "Evolution of the Infant Health Production Function," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 85(1), pages 6-47, July.
    2. Nastis, Stefanos A. & Crocker, Thomas D., 2012. "Valuing mother and child health: The intrauterine environment," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 318-328.
    3. Sonchak, Lyudmyla, 2015. "Medicaid reimbursement, prenatal care and infant health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 10-24.
    4. Mocan, Naci & Raschke, Christian & Unel, Bulent, 2015. "The impact of mothers’ earnings on health inputs and infant health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 204-223.
    5. Almond, Douglas & Currie, Janet, 2011. "Human Capital Development before Age Five," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 15, pages 1315-1486, Elsevier.
    6. David Mmopelwa, 2019. "Prenatal care utilization and infant health in Botswana," Discussion Papers 2019-09, University of Nottingham, CREDIT.
    7. Lhila, Aparna & Simon, Kosali I., 2010. "Relative deprivation and child health in the USA," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(4), pages 777-785, August.
    8. Ana I. Balsa & Patricia Triunfo, 2012. "The Effectiveness of Prenatal Care in a Low Income Population: A Panel Data Approach," Documentos de Trabajo/Working Papers 1204, Facultad de Ciencias Empresariales y Economia. Universidad de Montevideo..
    9. Aparna Lhila & Kosali Simon, 2008. "Prenatal health investment decisions: Does the child’s sex matter?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 45(4), pages 885-905, November.
    10. Dora L. Costa, 2015. "Health and the Economy in the United States from 1750 to the Present," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 53(3), pages 503-570, September.
    11. Karen Smith Conway & Andrea Kutinova, 2006. "Maternal health: does prenatal care make a difference?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(5), pages 461-488, May.
    12. Thomasson, Melissa A. & Fishback, Price V., 2014. "Hard times in the land of plenty: The effect on income and disability later in life for people born during the great depression," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 64-78.
    13. 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.
    14. Wehby, George L. & Murray, Jeffrey C. & Castilla, Eduardo E. & Lopez-Camelo, Jorge S. & Ohsfeldt, Robert L., 2009. "Prenatal care demand and its effects on birth outcomes by birth defect status in Argentina," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 84-95, March.
    15. Lhila, Aparna, 2011. "Does access to fast food lead to super-sized pregnant women and whopper babies?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 364-380.
    16. Janet Currie, 2009. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Socioeconomic Status, Poor Health in Childhood, and Human Capital Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(1), pages 87-122, March.
    17. George L. Wehby & Jeffrey C. Murray & Eduardo E. Castilla & Jorge S. Lopez‐Camelo & Robert L. Ohsfeldt, 2009. "Quantile effects of prenatal care utilization on birth weight in Argentina," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(11), pages 1307-1321, November.
    18. Andrea Menclova, 2013. "The Effects of Unemployment on Prenatal Care Use and Infant Health," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 34(4), pages 400-420, December.
    19. Lhila, Aparna, 2009. "Does government provision of healthcare explain the relationship between income inequality and low birthweight?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(8), pages 1236-1245, October.
    20. Schultz, T. Paul, 2010. "Population and Health Policies," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Dani Rodrik & Mark Rosenzweig (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 0, pages 4785-4881, Elsevier.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:21:y:2012:i:3:p:301-315. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/5749 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Wiley Content Delivery (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/5749 .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.