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Does grief transfer across generations? In-utero deaths and child outcomes

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  • Sandra Black
  • Paul J. Devereux
  • Kjell Salvanes

Abstract

While much is now known about the effects of physical health shocks to pregnant women on the outcomes of the in-utero child, we know little about the effects of psychological stresses. One clear form of stress to the mother comes from the death of a parent. We examine the effects of the death of the mother's parent during pregnancy on both the short-run and the long-run outcomes of the infant. Our primary specification involves using mother fixed effects--comparing the outcomes of two children with the same mother but where a parent of the mother died during one of the pregnancies--augmented with a control for whether there is a death around the time of the pregnancy in order to isolate true causal effects of a bereavement during pregnancy. We find small negative effects on birth outcomes, and these effects are bigger for boys than for girls. The effects on birth outcomes seems to be driven by deaths due to cardiovascular causes suggesting that sudden deaths are more difficult to deal with. However, we find no evidence of adverse effects on adult outcomes. The results are robust to alternative specifications.

Suggested Citation

  • Sandra Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell Salvanes, 2014. "Does grief transfer across generations? In-utero deaths and child outcomes," NBER Working Papers 19979, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19979 Note: CH ED LS
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    16. repec:ucn:wpaper:10197/317 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Foureaux Koppensteiner, Martin & Manacorda, Marco, 2016. "Violence and birth outcomes: Evidence from homicides in Brazil," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, pages 16-33.
    2. Figlio, D. & Karbownik, K. & Salvanes, K.G., 2016. "Education Research and Administrative Data," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
    3. Foureaux Koppensteiner, Martin & Manacorda, Marco, 2016. "Violence and birth outcomes: Evidence from homicides in Brazil," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, pages 16-33.
    4. Duncan, Brian & Mansour, Hani & Rees, Daniel I., 2015. "Prenatal Stress and Low Birth Weight: Evidence from the Super Bowl," IZA Discussion Papers 9053, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Osea Giuntella, 2016. "Assimilation and Health: Evidence From Linked Birth Records of Second- and Third-Generation Hispanics," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(6), pages 1979-2004, December.
    6. Anne Ardila Brenøe & Ramona Molitor, 2015. "Birth Order and Health of Newborns: What Can We Learn from Danish Registry Data?," Discussion Papers 15-14, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    7. Anne Ardila Brenøe & Ramona Molitor, 2015. "Birth Order and Health of Newborns: What Can We Learn from Danish Registry Data?," Working Papers 161, Bavarian Graduate Program in Economics (BGPE).
    8. Anne Ardila Brenøe & Ramona Molitor, 2015. "Birth Order and Health of Newborns: What Can We Learn from Danish Registry Data?," CINCH Working Paper Series 1513, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health, revised Oct 2015.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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