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Red Alert: Prenatal Stress and Plans to Close Military Bases

Kyle Carlson
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Kyle Carlson: Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences, California Institute of Technology Author email:

American Journal of Health Economics, 2018, vol. 4, issue 3, 287-320

Abstract: In May 2005 the US military announced a restructuring plan called Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). Some areas were projected to lose 20 percent of employment, sparking much distress. Previous research shows that stress affects pregnancy and fetal development. This study finds that immediately following the announcement, the mean gestational age in the most affected areas dropped by 1.5 days for a period of one to two months. Births shifted from 39+ to 37–38 weeks, a period linked to health risks. Similar changes appear in birth weight. Local changes in employment and mothers' characteristics do not account for these effects.

Keywords: stress; birth weight; employment; government spending (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I10 N50 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Handle: RePEc:ucp:amjhec:v:4:y:2018:i:3:p:287-320