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Booms, Busts, and Babies' Health

Rajeev Dehejia and Adriana Lleras-Muney

The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2004, vol. 119, issue 3, 1091-1130

Abstract: We study the relationship between the unemployment rate at the time of a baby's conception and parental characteristics, parental behaviors, and babies' health. Babies conceived in times of high unemployment have a reduced incidence of low and very low birth weight, fewer congenital malformations, and lower postneonatal mortality. These health improvements are attributable both to selection (changes in the type of mothers who conceive during recessions) and to improvements in health behavior during recessions. Black mothers tend to be higher socioeconomic status (as measured by education and marital status) in times of high unemployment, whereas White mothers are less educated.

Date: 2004
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