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

  • Theodore J. Joyce
  • Naci H. Mocan

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.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w3694.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3694.

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Date of creation: May 1991
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Publication status: published as Journal of Human Resources, Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 185-203 (Winter 1993).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3694
Note: HE
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  1. Sims, Christopher A, 1972. "Money, Income, and Causality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 540-52, September.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Stock, James H & Watson, Mark W, 1988. "Variable Trends in Economic Time Series," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 147-74, Summer.
  5. Theodore J. Joyce, 1989. "A Time-Series Analysis of Unemployment and Health: The Case of Birth Outcomes in New York City," NBER Working Papers 2834, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. Cooley, Thomas F. & Leroy, Stephen F., 1985. "Atheoretical macroeconometrics: A critique," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 283-308, November.
  8. 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.
  9. Granger, C W J, 1969. "Investigating Causal Relations by Econometric Models and Cross-Spectral Methods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 37(3), pages 424-38, July.
  10. Björklund, Anders, 1984. "Unemployment and Mental Health: Some Evidence from Panel Data," Working Paper Series 120, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  11. Charles R. Nelson & Heejoon Kang, 1983. "Pitfalls in the use of Time as an Explanatory Variable in Regression," NBER Technical Working Papers 0030, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Peter C.B. Phillips & Pierre Perron, 1986. "Testing for a Unit Root in Time Series Regression," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 795R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Sep 1987.
  13. 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 1303-10, November.
  14. Sims, Christopher A, 1980. "Macroeconomics and Reality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 1-48, January.
  15. 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.
  16. 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 651-58, November.
  17. 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.
  18. 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 1057-72, June.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
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