IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/14428.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Health Capital and the Prenatal Environment: The Effect of Maternal Fasting During Pregnancy

Author

Listed:
  • Douglas Almond
  • Bhashkar Mazumder

Abstract

We use the Islamic holy month of Ramadan as a natural experiment in fasting and fetal health. In Michigan births 1989-2006, we find prenatal exposure to Ramadan among Arab mothers results in lower birthweight and reduced gestation length. Exposure to Ramadan in the first month of gestation is also associated with a sizable reduction in the number of male births. In Census data for Uganda, Iraq, and the US we find strong associations between in utero exposure to Ramadan and the likelihood of being disabled as an adult. Effects are particularly large for mental (or learning) disabilities. We also find significant effects on proxies for wealth, earnings, the sex composition of the adult population, and more suggestive evidence of effects on schooling. We find no evidence that negative selection in conceptions during Ramadan accounts for our findings, suggesting that avoiding Ramadan exposure during pregnancy is costly or the long-term effects of fasting unknown.

Suggested Citation

  • Douglas Almond & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2008. "Health Capital and the Prenatal Environment: The Effect of Maternal Fasting During Pregnancy," NBER Working Papers 14428, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14428
    Note: AG CH HE
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14428.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. James Heckman & Flavio Cunha, 2007. "The Technology of Skill Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 31-47, May.
    2. Kasey S. Buckles & Daniel M. Hungerman, 2013. "Season of Birth and Later Outcomes: Old Questions, New Answers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(3), pages 711-724, July.
    3. In Utero, 2006. "Is the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Over? Long-Term Effects of In Utero Influenza Exposure in the Post-1940 U.S. Population," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(4), pages 672-712, August.
    4. Heckman, James J., 2007. "The Economics, Technology and Neuroscience of Human Capability Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 2875, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Stacy Dickert-Conlin & Amitabh Chandra, 1999. "Taxes and the Timing of Birth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 161-177, February.
    6. Dora L. Costa & Joanna N. Lahey, 2005. "Predicting Older Age Mortality Trends," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 487-493, 04/05.
    7. Karen Norberg, 2004. "Partnership Status and the Human Sex Ratio at Birth," NBER Working Papers 10920, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Chen, Yuyu & Zhou, Li-An, 2007. "The long-term health and economic consequences of the 1959-1961 famine in China," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 659-681, July.
    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. 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.
    2. Doblhammer, Gabriele & van den Berg, Gerard J. & Fritze, Thomas, 2011. "Economic Conditions at the Time of Birth and Cognitive Abilities Late in Life: Evidence from Eleven European Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 5940, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Schultz-Nielsen, Marie Louise & Tekin, Erdal & Greve, Jane, 2016. "Labor market effects of intrauterine exposure to nutritional deficiency: Evidence from administrative data on Muslim immigrants in Denmark," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 196-209.
    4. Matranga, Andrea, 2017. "The Ant and the Grasshopper: Seasonality and the Invention of Agriculture," MPRA Paper 76626, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Andinet Woldemichael & Kidane Daniel & Shimeles Abebe, 2017. "Working Paper 276 - A Tax on Children? Food Price Inflation and Health," Working Paper Series 2393, African Development Bank.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    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:nbr:nberwo:14428. 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://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    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 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.

    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.