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Labor Market Effects of Intrauterine Exposure to Nutritional Deficiency: Evidence from Administrative Data on Muslim Immigrants in Denmark

Listed author(s):
  • Schultz-Nielsen, Marie Louise

    ()

    (Rockwool Foundation Research Unit)

  • Tekin, Erdal

    ()

    (American University)

  • Greve, Jane

    ()

    (KORA - Danish Institute for Local and Regional Government Research)

This paper examines whether nutritional disruptions experienced during the stage of fetal development impair an individual's labor market productivity later in life. We consider intrauterine exposure to the month of Ramadan as a natural experiment that might cause shocks to the inflow of nutrients essential for fetal development. Specifically, we use administrative data from Denmark to investigate the impact of exposure to Ramadan in utero on labor market outcomes of adult Muslim males, including employment status, annual salary, hourly wage rate, and hours of work. Our findings indicate that potential exposure to nutritional disruptions during a critical stage of fetal development has scarring effects on the fetus expressed as poor labor market outcomes later in life. Specifically, exposure to Ramadan in the 7th month of gestation results in a lower likelihood of employment, a lower salary, and reduced labor supply, but not necessarily a lower wage rate. We also document suggestive evidence that these results may partially be driven by increased disability and to a lesser extent by poor educational attainment among those who were exposed to Ramadan during this particular period in utero.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 8673.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2014
Publication status: published in: Economics and Human Biology, 2016, 21, 196–209
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8673
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  1. van Ewijk, Reyn, 2011. "Long-term health effects on the next generation of Ramadan fasting during pregnancy," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1246-1260.
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  11. Doyle, Orla & Harmon, Colm P. & Heckman, James J. & Tremblay, Richard E., 2009. "Investing in early human development: Timing and economic efficiency," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 1-6, March.
  12. 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.
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  14. Mansour, Hani & Rees, Daniel I., 2012. "Armed conflict and birth weight: Evidence from the al-Aqsa Intifada," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 190-199.
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  16. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Susanne M. Schennach, 2010. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(3), pages 883-931, 05.
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  18. Scholte, Robert S. & van den Berg, Gerard J. & Lindeboom, Maarten, 2015. "Long-run effects of gestation during the Dutch Hunger Winter famine on labor market and hospitalization outcomes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 17-30.
  19. Hernández-Julián, Rey & Mansour, Hani & Peters, Christina, 2013. "The Effects of Intrauterine Malnutrition on Birth and Fertility Outcomes: Evidence from the 1974 Bangladesh Famine," IZA Discussion Papers 7692, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  20. Heckman, James J., 2007. "The Economics, Technology and Neuroscience of Human Capability Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 2875, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  22. Jane Greve & Marie Louise Schultz-Nielsen & Erdal Tekin, 2015. "Fetal Malnutrition And Academic Success: Evidence From Muslim Immigrants In Denmark," NBER Working Papers 21545, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie, 2011. "Killing Me Softly: The Fetal Origins Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 153-172, Summer.
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  25. Majid, Muhammad Farhan, 2015. "The persistent effects of in utero nutrition shocks over the life cycle: Evidence from Ramadan fasting," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 48-57.
  26. Douglas Almond & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2011. "Health Capital and the Prenatal Environment: The Effect of Ramadan Observance during Pregnancy," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 56-85, October.
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