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Where Have All the Young Men Gone? Using Gender Ratios to Measure Fetal Death Rates

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  • Nicholas J. Sanders
  • Charles F. Stoecker

Abstract

Fetal health is an important consideration in the formation of health-based policy. However, a complete census of true fetal deaths is impossible to obtain. We present the gender ratio of live births as an under-exploited metric of fetal health and apply it to examine the effects of air quality on fetal health. Males are more vulnerable to side effects of maternal stress in utero, and thus are more likely to suffer fetal death due to pollution exposure. We demonstrate this metric in the context of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1970 (CAAA) which provide a source of exogenous variation in county-level ambient total suspended particulate matter (TSPs). We find that a standard deviation increase in annual average TSPs (approximately 35 μg/m 3 ) decreases the percentage of live births that are male by 3.1 percentage points. We then explore the use of observed differences in neonatal and one-year mortality rates across genders in response to pollution exposure as a metric to estimate total fetal losses in utero. These calculations suggest the pollution reductions from the CAAA prevented approximately 21,000-134,000 fetal deaths in 1972.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicholas J. Sanders & Charles F. Stoecker, 2011. "Where Have All the Young Men Gone? Using Gender Ratios to Measure Fetal Death Rates," NBER Working Papers 17434, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17434
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    Cited by:

    1. Sanders, Nicholas J. & Stoecker, Charles, 2015. "Where have all the young men gone? Using sex ratios to measure fetal death rates," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 30-45.
    2. Bejenariu, Simona & Mitrut, Andreea, 2012. "Austerity Measures and Infant Health. Lessons from an Unexpected Wage Cut Policy," Working Paper Series 2012:4, Uppsala University, Department of Economics, revised 10 Oct 2013.
    3. Joshua Graff Zivin & Matthew Neidell, 2013. "Environment, Health, and Human Capital," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(3), pages 689-730, September.
    4. Elizabeth Brainerd, 2012. "Seasonal Effects of Water Quality on Infant and Child Health in India," Working Papers id:5119, eSocialSciences.
    5. Ball, Alastair, 2014. "Air pollution, foetal mortality, and long-term health: Evidence from the Great London Smog," MPRA Paper 63229, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 25 Mar 2015.
    6. Ziebarth, Nicolas R. & Schmitt, Maike & Karlsson, Martin, 2013. "The Short-Term Population Health Effects of Weather and Pollution: Implications of Climate Change," IZA Discussion Papers 7875, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Hendrik Jürges, 2012. "Collateral damage: Educational attainment and labor market outcomes among German war and post-war cohorts," Schumpeter Discussion Papers sdp12003, Universitätsbibliothek Wuppertal, University Library.
    8. Valente, Christine, 2015. "Civil conflict, gender-specific fetal loss, and selection: A new test of the Trivers–Willard hypothesis," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 31-50.
    9. Halla, Martin & Zweimüller, Martina, 2014. "Parental Response to Early Human Capital Shocks: Evidence from the Chernobyl Accident," IZA Discussion Papers 7968, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Nicholas J. Sanders, 2012. "What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Weaker: Prenatal Pollution Exposure and Educational Outcomes," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(3), pages 826-850.
    11. Alan I. Barreca & Marianne E. Page, 2012. "A Pint for a Pound? Reevaluating the Relationship Between Minimum Drinking Age Laws and Birth Outcomes," Working Papers 1220, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    12. Christopher R. Knittel & Douglas L. Miller & Nicholas J. Sanders, 2016. "Caution, Drivers! Children Present: Traffic, Pollution, and Infant Health," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 98(2), pages 350-366, May.
    13. Jürges, Hendrik, 2012. "Collateral damage: Educational attainment and labor market outcomes among German war and post-war cohorts," MEA discussion paper series 201202, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
    14. Wolfgang Frimmel & Martin Halla & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2014. "Can Pro-Marriage Policies Work? An Analysis of Marginal Marriages," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(4), pages 1357-1379, August.
    15. Andreas Schaefer, 2016. "Survival to Adulthood and the Growth Drag of Pollution," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 16/241, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
    16. repec:mea:meawpa:12253 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Daniel S. Grossman & David J.G. Slusky, 2017. "The Effect of an Increase in Lead in the Water System on Fertility and Birth Outcomes: The Case of Flint, Michigan," WORKING PAPERS SERIES IN THEORETICAL AND APPLIED ECONOMICS 201703, University of Kansas, Department of Economics, revised Aug 2017.
    18. Christopher Khawand, 2015. "Air Quality, Mortality, and Perinatal Health: Causal Evidence from Wildfires," 2015 Papers pkh318, Job Market Papers.
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    21. Adam Isen & Maya Rossin-Slater & W. Reed Walker, 2017. "Every Breath You Take—Every Dollar You’ll Make: The Long-Term Consequences of the Clean Air Act of 1970," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 125(3), pages 848-902.
    22. Alan Barreca & Olivier Deschenes & Melanie Guldi, 2015. "Maybe Next Month? Temperature Shocks, Climate Change, and Dynamic Adjustments in Birth Rates," NBER Working Papers 21681, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    23. Brainerd, Elizabeth & Menon, Nidhiya, 2014. "Seasonal effects of water quality: The hidden costs of the Green Revolution to infant and child health in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 49-64.
    24. Avinash Kishore & Dean Spears, 2014. "Having a Son Promotes Clean Cooking Fuel Use in Urban India: Women's Status and Son Preference," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62(4), pages 673-699.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling

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