The Weight of the Crisis: Evidence From Newborns in Argentina
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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