10-camacho 2008

10-camacho 2008 - 511 American Economic Review: Papers...

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Unformatted text preview: 511 American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings 2008, 98:2, 511515 http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi = 10.1257/aer.98.2.511 While terrorist attacks are relatively infre- quent, Gary Becker and Yona Rubinstein (2008) provide evidence that they generate a dispropor- tionate amount of stress and fear, suggesting that the indirect effects may be far more reaching than the direct effects. The international organi- zation Mdecins Sans Frontires (2006) claims that the physiological effect of civil conflict is Colombians worst public health problem. This paper is the first attempt to measure the effect of prenatal psychological stress due to terrorism on child birth outcomes. The medical literature indicates that prena- tal stress increases levels of Corticotrophin- Releasing Hormone (CRH), which regulates the duration of pregnancy and fetal maturation and thus increases the risk of adverse birth outcomes (Pathik D. Wadhwa et al. 1993, among others). There is also evidence that birth outcomes are most sensitive to maternal stress in early stages of pregnancy (Laura M. Glynn et al. 2001). This study finds that the intensity of random landmine explosions during a womans first trimester of pregnancy has a significant nega- tive impact on child birth weight. This finding persists when mother fixed effects are included, suggesting that neither observable nor unob- servable characteristics of the mothers are driv- ing the results. I use a large dataset, comprising approximately 4 million births in Colombia from 1998 to 2003, which enables me to observe multiple births by the same mother and gives strong statistical power to discern patterns. The data also allow me to link the date of a landmine explosion with the trimester of the pregnancy, and thereby to identify the stage of pregnancy Stress and Birth Weight: Evidence from Terrorist Attacks By Adriana Camacho* at which stress most influences birth weight. Finally, the data show that landmines have been laid all over the country, and explosions occur with different levels of intensity across time and space. 1 This yields a very powerful quasi- experimental setting design to test the effects of exogenous stress shocks on birth outcomes, overcoming both the difficulty of doing an experiment, and issues of nonrandom residence during pregnancy. The results from this paper identify an important channel through which violence may increase inequality and have long-lasting inter- generational effects on human capital accumu- lation. They could be related to the findings of Janet Currie and Enrico Moretti (2007), which show strong intergenerational correlations of low birth weight (LBW). Moreover, previous work has established that birth weight is an impor- tant predictor of aspects of health later in life, including a higher probability of infant mortal- ity (Douglas Almond, Kenneth Chay, and David Lee 2005), lung disease, heart disease, type II diabetes, lower cognitive abilities, and learning disorders (Jennifer Couzin 2002). In addition, disorders (Jennifer Couzin 2002)....
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This note was uploaded on 04/04/2011 for the course ECON 3301 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at UT Arlington.

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10-camacho 2008 - 511 American Economic Review: Papers...

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