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Healthy Babies: Does Prenatal Care Really Matter?

Ji Yan ()

No 17-09, Working Papers from Department of Economics, Appalachian State University

Abstract: 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 yields robust evidence that either early care onset or an increase in visits has a salient payoff in terms of newborn health stock. Furthermore, this study exploits two quasi-experiments to respectively deal with potential bias in the within-mother estimates and investigate the effectiveness of prenatal care under a Medicaid managed care reform. Overall, the results suggest it is important to improve care access for childbearing women especially those with low socioeconomic status. Moreover, caution is needed in design and delivery of managed care plans not to undermine provision of adequate prenatal care. Key Words: prenatal care; infant health; early childhood environment; in utero health investments; Medicaid managed care; sibling data

JEL-codes: I12 I18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea and nep-ias
Date: 2017
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