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The Intergenerational Impact of Terror: Does the 9/11 Tragedy Reverberate into the Outcomes of the Next Generation?

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  • Ryan Brown

    () (Duke University)

Abstract

A medical literature that provides biological pathways from maternal stress to adverse birth outcomes, coupled with a growing consensus that birth characteristics are predictive of later life wellbeing, suggest that events that cause psychological trauma during pregnancy may have dire consequences for the next generation. Due to the unexpected nature of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 a random cohort of in utero children where exogenously insulted by increased maternal psychological distress. The goal of this study is to rigorously examine the casual effect of acute maternal stress on birth outcomes. To explore this question, it is imperative to avoid two identification pitfalls common in natural experiment studies of this topic: non-stress related negative externalities and post-event endogenous fertility selection. With these issues in mind, this analysis excludes those individuals most at risk of health and resource shocks unrelated to stress, New York City and Washington D.C. residents, and does not rely on the endogenously selected post-event birth cohorts. Results suggest that children exposed while in utero were born significantly smaller and earlier than previous cohorts. The timing of the effect provides evidence that intrauterine growth is specifically restricted by first trimester exposure to stress, while gestational age is most reduced by increased maternal psychological distress in mid pregnancy.

Suggested Citation

  • Ryan Brown, 2014. "The Intergenerational Impact of Terror: Does the 9/11 Tragedy Reverberate into the Outcomes of the Next Generation?," HiCN Working Papers 165, Households in Conflict Network.
  • Handle: RePEc:hic:wpaper:165
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2007. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 409-439.
    2. Neeraj Kaushal & Robert Kaestner & Cordelia Reimers, 2007. "Labor Market Effects of September 11th on Arab and Muslim Residents of the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(2).
    3. Adriana Camacho, 2008. "Stress and Birth Weight: Evidence from Terrorist Attacks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 511-515, May.
    4. Richard Evans & Yingyao Hu & Zhong Zhao, 2010. "The fertility effect of catastrophe: U.S. hurricane births," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 23(1), pages 1-36, January.
    5. Jason Bram & James A. Orr & Carol Rapaport, 2002. "Measuring the effects of the September 11 attack on New York City," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 8(Nov), pages 5-20.
    6. 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.
    7. Gary S. Becker & Yona Rubinstein, 2011. "Fear and the Response to Terrorism: An Economic Analysis," CEP Discussion Papers dp1079, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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    Cited by:

    1. Álvarez-Aranda, Rocío & Chirkova, Serafima & Romero, José Gabriel, 2020. "Growing in the womb: The effect of seismic activity on fetal growth," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 36(C).
    2. Kyle Carlson, 2018. "Red Alert: Prenatal Stress and Plans to Close Military Bases," American Journal of Health Economics, MIT Press, vol. 4(3), pages 287-320, Summer.
    3. Schwandt, Hannes, 2017. "The Lasting Legacy of Seasonal Influenza: In-utero Exposure and Labor Market Outcomes," DaCHE discussion papers 2017:5, University of Southern Denmark, Dache - Danish Centre for Health Economics.
    4. von Hinke Kessler Scholder, Stephanie & Rice, Nigel & Tominey, Emma, 2019. "Mental Health around Pregnancy and Child Development from Early Childhood to Adolescence," IZA Discussion Papers 12544, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Climent Quintana-Domeque & Pedro Rodenas-Serrano, 2014. "Terrorism and Human Capital at Birth: Bomb Casualties and Birth Outcomes in Spain," Working Papers 2014-020, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.

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