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Healthy Babies

Ji Yan ()

American Journal of Health Economics, 2020, vol. 6, issue 2, 199 - 215

Abstract: The recent economic literature on child development has underscored the importance of giving babies a healthy start. Despite the widespread use of prenatal care, whether this early investment improves infant health is not well understood. This study provides new causal evidence on this crucial issue using 1.4 million sibling births. The baseline within-family analysis shows a modest effect of prenatal care on the mean birth weight but large effects on adverse outcomes at the lower end of the birth weight distribution, where two channels are preventing low maternal weight gain and promoting prenatal smoking cessation. Similar results hold when we examine different subperiods or subgroups, consider multiple dimensions of care utilization, or use additional birth-varying controls. Overall, this study shows that adequate prenatal care has a significant payoff in terms of newborn health stock. From a policy perspective, it is important to improve prenatal care access for childbearing women.

Date: 2020
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