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Parental Economic Shocks and Infant Health: The Effect of Import Competition in the U.S

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  • Patralekha Ukil

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

Much of the literature providing causal evidence of parental economic conditions on infant health has focused on the impact of positive economic or income shocks, as opposed to negative ones. The concept of loss aversion makes it clear that individuals react differently when facing potential losses compared to potential gains, and that losses tend to be twice as psychologically powerful as gains. Moreover, long-term and persistent negative shocks such as those arising through increasing import competition could have different effects on health compared to reasonably temporary shocks such as lay-offs, recessions or business cycle fluctuations. This paper examines the effect of parental or household economic shocks on infant health by exploiting the increasing import competition from China between 1990 and 2000 on U.S. local labor markets as a plausibly exogenous source of variation in economic conditions. It also utilizes additional variation stemming from parental age within the local labor markets, thereby controlling for local labor market trends and allowing the analysis of heterogeneous impacts. Results indicate that commuting zones in the U.S. which experienced increased import penetration over time also experienced an increased incidence of low birthweight and a decrease in average birthweight. Further analyses show that the above results are driven by relatively younger parents as opposed to older parents.

Suggested Citation

  • Patralekha Ukil, 2019. "Parental Economic Shocks and Infant Health: The Effect of Import Competition in the U.S," Working papers 2019-18, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2019-18
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Infant health; Birthweight; Parental Income; International Trade; Income Inequality; Import Competition; Manufacturing Decline;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • F61 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Microeconomic Impacts
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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