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Maternal Stress and Birth Outcomes: Evidence from the 1994 Northridge Earthquake

Author

Listed:
  • Bongkyun Kim

    () (Department of Economics, University of Tennessee)

  • Celeste K. Carruthers

    () (Department of Economics, University of Tennessee)

  • Matthew C. Harris

    () (Department of Economics, University of Tennessee)

Abstract

Psychological maternal stress is difficult to identify as a causal factor in poor infant health. We posit that the 1994 Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles, California provides a natural test of the effect of mothers' stress on infants' birth weight and gestation. Difference-in-difference results show that infants born closest to the epicenter were 0.24 percentage points more likely to be born with low birth weight. Among the subsample of mothers most susceptible to stress -- first-time, single mothers -- low birth weight was 0.65 percentage points more likely to occur. Impacts were larger and more precisely identified for women who experienced the earthquake in their first or third trimester. We find little evidence that earthquake-induced stress affected preterm delivery.

Suggested Citation

  • Bongkyun Kim & Celeste K. Carruthers & Matthew C. Harris, 2016. "Maternal Stress and Birth Outcomes: Evidence from the 1994 Northridge Earthquake," Working Papers 2016-01, University of Tennessee, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ten:wpaper:2016-01
    as

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    File URL: http://web.utk.edu/~ccarrut1/Kim_Carruthers_Harris_2017-05-25.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Maternal stress; birth outcomes; natural disasters;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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