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

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Abstract

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.

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  • 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. Cristina Borra & Libertad González Luna & David Patiño, 2021. "Maternal age and infant health," Economics Working Papers 1791, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    2. Ainhoa Aparicio, 2014. "Newborn Health and the Business Cycle," CINCH Working Paper Series 1402, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health.
    3. Sebastian Vollmer & Juditha Wójcik, 2017. "The Long-term Consequences of the Global 1918 Influenza Pandemic: A Systematic Analysis of 117 IPUMS International Census Data Sets," CINCH Working Paper Series 1708, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health.
    4. Abrahamsen, Signe A. & Ginja, Rita & Riise, Julie, "undated". "School Health Programs: Education, Health and Welfare Dependency of Young Adults," CINCH Working Paper Series (since 2020) 74644, Duisburg-Essen University Library, DuEPublico.
    5. Cristina Bellés‐Obrero & Sergi Jiménez‐Martín & Judit Vall‐Castello, 2016. "Bad Times, Slimmer Children?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(S2), pages 93-112, November.
    6. Grossman, Daniel, 2019. "The unintended effects of place based programs: Fertility and health effects of urban empowerment zones," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 114-127.
    7. Yu Aoki & Lualhati Santiago, 2015. "Fertility, Health and Education of UK Immigrants: The Role of English Language Skills," CINCH Working Paper Series 1510, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health, revised Aug 2015.
    8. De Cao, Elisabetta & McCormick, Barry & Nicodemo, Catia, 2022. "Does unemployment worsen babies’ health? A tale of siblings, maternal behaviour, and selection," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(C).
    9. 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.
    10. Kronenberg, Christoph, 2020. "New(spaper) Evidence of a Reduction in Suicide Mentions during the 19th‐century US Gold Rush," CINCH Working Paper Series (since 2020) 73382, Duisburg-Essen University Library, DuEPublico.
    11. Barili, E. & Bertoli, P. & Grembi, V. & Rattini, V., 2021. "COVID Angels Fighting Daily Demons? Mental Health of Healthcare Workers and Religion," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 21/05, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    12. Carbone, Jared C. & Kverndokk, Snorre, 2014. "Individual investments in education and health," HERO Online Working Paper Series 2014:1, University of Oslo, Health Economics Research Programme.
    13. Cristina Borra & Jerònia Pons-Pons & Margarita Vilar-Rodríguez, 2020. "Austerity, healthcare provision, and health outcomes in Spain," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 21(3), pages 409-423, April.
    14. 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.
    15. Joshua J. Robinson, 2014. "Sound Body, Sound Mind?," CINCH Working Paper Series 1403, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health.
    16. Alessie, Rob & Angelini, Viola & Mierau, Jochen O. & Viluma, Laura, 2018. "Economic downturns and infant health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 162-171.
    17. Elizabeth Lemmon, 2018. "Utilisation of personal care services in Scotland: the influence of unpaid carers," CINCH Working Paper Series 1802, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health.
    18. Fischer, Martin & Karlsson, Martin & Prodromidis, Nikolaos, 2021. "Long‐term Effects of Hospital Deliveries," CINCH Working Paper Series (since 2020) 74712, Duisburg-Essen University Library, DuEPublico.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    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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