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Newborn health and the business cycle: Is it good to be born in bad times?



We study the effect of the business cycle on the health of newborn babies using 30 years of birth certificate data for Spain. Exploiting regional variation over time, we find that babies are born healthier when the local unemployment rate is high. Although fertility is lower during recessions, the effect on health is not the result of selection (healthier mothers being more likely to conceive when unemployment is high). We match multiple births to the same parents and find that the main result survives the inclusion of parents fixed-effects. We then explore a range of maternal behaviors as potential channels. Fertility-age women do not appear to engage in significantly healthier behaviors during recessions (in terms of exercise, nutrition, smoking and drinking). However, they are more likely to be out of work. Maternal employment during pregnancy is in turn negatively correlated with babies' health. We conclude that maternal employment is a plausible mediating channel.

Suggested Citation

  • Ainhoa Aparicio & Libertad González Luna, 2013. "Newborn health and the business cycle: Is it good to be born in bad times?," Economics Working Papers 1374, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Mar 2014.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1374

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    Cited by:

    1. Ainhoa Aparicio, 2014. "Newborn Health and the Business Cycle," CINCH Working Paper Series 1402, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health.
    2. Clarke, Damian & Mühlrad, Hanna, 2016. "The Impact of Abortion Legalization on Fertility and Maternal Mortality: New Evidence from Mexico," Working Papers in Economics 661, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    3. Joshua J. Robinson, 2014. "Sound Body, Sound Mind?," CINCH Working Paper Series 1403, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health.
    4. Alessie, R.; Angelini, V.; Mierau, J.O.; Viluma, L.;, 2017. "Economic Downturns and Babies’ Health," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 17/11, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    5. Carbone, Jared C. & Kverndokk, Snorre, 2014. "Individual investments in education and health," HERO On line Working Paper Series 2014:1, Oslo University, Health Economics Research Programme.

    More about this item


    recessions; business cycles; infant health; fertility; birth weight; infant mortality; Spain.;

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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