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The Weight of the Crisis: Evidence From Newborns in Argentina

  • Carlos Bozzoli
  • Climent Quintana

Argentina hit world news headlines in 2002 due to the largest debt-default in history and a sudden economic collapse reminiscent of economic statistics from the Great Depression. In this article, we focus on other consequences of the crisis that are notso obvious, but that may linger for decades on. Combining macroeconomic indicatorswith the Argentine national registry of live births, approximately 1.9 million live birthsoccurring between 2001 and 2003, we show that the crisis led to an average birth weightloss of 30 grams. Our estimate is robust to di¤erent identi…cation strategies. This deterioration in birth weight occurred in just about 6 months, and represents one sixth of the difference in average birth weight between American and Pakistani babies. We also find that the crisis affected particularly the weight of babies born from low-socioeconomicstatus mothers. In an attempt to estimate the long-lasting economic cost of the crisis,we simulate the average loss of future individual earnings due to the reduction in averagebirth weight: about 500 US dollars per live birth in present value.

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Paper provided by FEDEA in its series Working Papers with number 2010-22.

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Date of creation: Sep 2010
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Handle: RePEc:fda:fdaddt:2010-22
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  1. Morten O. Ravn & Harald Uhlig, 2002. "On adjusting the Hodrick-Prescott filter for the frequency of observations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 371-375.
  2. Savanti, Maria Paula & Patrinos, Harry Anthony, 2005. "Rising returns to schooling in Argentina, 1992-2002 : productivity or credentialism?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3714, The World Bank.
  3. Heather Royer, 2009. "Separated at Girth: US Twin Estimates of the Effects of Birth Weight," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 49-85, January.
  4. Gerard J. van den Berg & Maarten Lindeboom & France Portrait, 2006. "Economic Conditions Early in Life and Individual Mortality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 290-302, March.
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