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Unemployment and Infant Health: Times-Series Evidence from the State of Tennessee

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  • Theodore J. Joyce
  • Naci H. Mocan

Abstract

The relationship between unemployment and health continues to absorb social scientists. The primary reason is the potential significance of an association. If a substantial deterioration in aggregate health is related to economic downturns, then the cost of a recession may be much greater than the foregone output. This paper investigates the aggregate time-series relationship between unemployment and low birthweight with monthly data from the state of Tennessee from 1970 through 1989. The study differs from previous work in that we decompose the unemployment rate into its structural and cyclical components. Moreover, we use vector autoregressions to test the reduced form relationship between unemployment and low birthweight. The well-defined exogeneity of unemployment and the lag length restriction imposed by the duration of a pregnancy strengthens the specification considerably. We fail to find a relationship between unemployment and low birthweight. This basic finding remains unchanged irrespective of whether we test structural or cyclical unemployment, or whether we use total or race-specific rates of low birthweight.

Suggested Citation

  • Theodore J. Joyce & Naci H. Mocan, 1991. "Unemployment and Infant Health: Times-Series Evidence from the State of Tennessee," NBER Working Papers 3694, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3694 Note: HE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Joyce, Theodore, 1990. "A time-series analysis of unemployment and health : The case of birth outcomes in New York city," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 419-436, February.
    2. Stock, James H & Watson, Mark W, 1988. "Variable Trends in Economic Time Series," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 147-174, Summer.
    3. Dickey, David A & Fuller, Wayne A, 1981. "Likelihood Ratio Statistics for Autoregressive Time Series with a Unit Root," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 1057-1072, June.
    4. Godfrey, Leslie G, 1978. "Testing for Higher Order Serial Correlation in Regression Equations When the Regressors Include Lagged Dependent Variables," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1303-1310, November.
    5. Ambler, Steve, 1989. "Does Money Matter in Canada? Evidence from a Vector Error Correction Model," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(4), pages 651-658, November.
    6. Sims, Christopher A, 1980. "Macroeconomics and Reality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 1-48, January.
    7. Forbes, John F. & McGregor, Alan, 1984. "Unemployment and mortality in post-war Scotland," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 239-257, December.
    8. Phillips, P C B, 1987. "Time Series Regression with a Unit Root," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 277-301, March.
    9. Robert J. Gordon & Stephen R. King, 1982. "The Output Cost of Disinflation in Traditional and Vector Autoregressive Models," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 13(1), pages 205-244.
    10. Anders Bj�rklund, 1985. "Unemployment and Mental Health: Some Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 20(4), pages 469-483.
    11. Hope Corman & Theodore J. Joyce & Michael Grossman, 1987. "Birth Outcome Production Function in the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 22(3), pages 339-360.
    12. Eckstein, Zvi & Schultz, T. Paul & Wolpin, Kenneth I., 1984. "Short-run fluctuations in fertility and mortality in pre-industrial Sweden," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 295-317, December.
    13. Grossman, Michael & Joyce, Theodore J, 1990. "Unobservables, Pregnancy Resolutions, and Birth Weight Production Functions in New York City," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 983-1007, October.
    14. Cooley, Thomas F. & Leroy, Stephen F., 1985. "Atheoretical macroeconometrics: A critique," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 283-308, November.
    15. Nelson, Charles R & Kang, Heejoon, 1984. "Pitfalls in the Use of Time as an Explanatory Variable in Regression," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 2(1), pages 73-82, January.
    16. Mark R. Rosenzweig & T. Paul Schultz, 1988. "The Stability of Household Production Technology: A Replication," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(4), pages 535-549.
    17. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1985:75:8:866-869_4 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Hope Corman & Theodore J. Joyce & Michael Grossman, 1985. "Birth Outcome Production Functions in the U.S," NBER Working Papers 1729, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Phillips, P C B, 1987. "Time Series Regression with a Unit Root," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 277-301, March.
    20. Granger, C W J, 1969. "Investigating Causal Relations by Econometric Models and Cross-Spectral Methods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 37(3), pages 424-438, July.
    21. Sims, Christopher A, 1972. "Money, Income, and Causality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 540-552, September.
    22. Nelson, Charles R. & Plosser, Charles I., 1982. "Trends and random walks in macroeconmic time series : Some evidence and implications," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 139-162.
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    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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