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Typically Unobserved Variables (TUVs) and Selection into Prenatal Inputs: Implications for Estimating Infant Health Production Functions

  • Nancy E. Reichman

    (Robert Wood Johnson Medical School University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey)

  • Hope Corman

    (Rider University and NBER)

  • Kelly Noonan

    (Rider University and NBER)

  • Dhaval Dave

    (Bentley College and NBER)

We use survey data, augmented with data collected from respondents’ medical records, to explore selection into prenatal inputs among a group of urban, mostly unmarried mothers. We explore the extent to which several theoretically important but typically unobserved variables (representing wantedness, taste for risky behavior, and maternal health endowment) are likely to bias the estimated effects of prenatal inputs (illicit drug use, cigarette smoking, and prenatal care) on infant health outcomes (birth weight, low birth weight, and abnormal conditions). We also explore the consequences of including other non-standard covariates and of using selfreported inputs versus measures of inputs that incorporate information from medical records. We find that although the typically unobserved variables have strong associations with both inputs and outcomes with high explanatory power, excluding them from infant health production functions does not substantially bias the estimated effects of prenatal inputs. The bias from using self-reported measures of the inputs is much more substantial. The results suggest promising new directions for research on the production of infant health.

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Paper provided by Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Migration and Development. in its series Working Papers with number 930.

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Date of creation: Jan 2006
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Handle: RePEc:pri:cmgdev:wp06-05
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  1. Kelly Noonan & Nancy E. Reichman & Hope Corman & Dhaval Dave, 2005. "Prenatal Drug Use and the Production of Infant Health," NBER Working Papers 11433, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Teitler, Julien O., 2001. "Father involvement, child health and maternal health behavior," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(4-5), pages 403-425.
  3. Kaestner, Robert & Joyce, Theodore & Wehbeh, Hassan, 1996. "The Effect of Maternal Drug Use on Birth Weight: Measurement Error in Binary Variables," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(4), pages 617-29, October.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  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. Joyce, Theodore, 1999. "Impact of augmented prenatal care on birth outcomes of Medicaid recipients in New York City," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 31-67, January.
  8. Theodore Joyce & Michael Grossman, 1990. "Pregnancy wantedness and the early initiation of prenatal care," Demography, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 1-17, February.
  9. Evans, William N. & Lien, Diana S., 2005. "The benefits of prenatal care: evidence from the PAT bus strike," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 207-239.
  10. Ted Joyce & Robert Kaestner & Sanders Korenman, 2002. "On the validity of retrospective assessments of pregnancy intention," Demography, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 199-213, February.
  11. Diana S. Lien & William N. Evans, 2005. "Estimating the Impact of Large Cigarette Tax Hikes: The Case of Maternal Smoking and Infant Birth Weight," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(2).
  12. Robert Moffitt, 2005. "Remarks on the analysis of causal relationships in population research," Demography, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 91-108, February.
  13. Geoffrey Warner, 2003. "The association between maternal depression and prenatal care adequacy," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 39-53, December.
  14. Karen Smith Conway & Lisa DeFelice Kennedy, 2004. "Maternal Depression and the Production of Infant Health," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 71(2), pages 260-286, October.
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