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Fetal origins and parental responses
We review the literature on how parental investments respond to health endowments at birth. Recent studies have combined insights from an earlier theoretical literature on how households allocate resources within the family, with a growing empirical literature that identifies early life health shocks using sharp research designs. We describe the econometric challenges in identifying the behavioral responses of parents and how recent studies have sought to address these challenges. We also discuss the emerging literature that has considered how there may be dynamic complementarities in ...
How did schooling laws improve long-term health and lower mortality?
Although it is well known that there is a strong association between education and health much less is known about how these factors are connected, and whether the relationship is causal. Lleras-Muney (2005) provides perhaps the strongest evidence that education has a causal effect on health. Using state compulsory school laws as instruments, Lleras-Muney finds large effects of education on mortality. We revisit these results, noting they are not robust to state time trends, even when the sample is vastly expanded and a coding error rectified. We employ a dataset containing a broad array of ...
The effects of maternal fasting during Ramadan on birth and adult outcomes
We use the Islamic holy month of Ramadan as a natural experiment for evaluating the short and long-term effects of fasting during pregnancy. Using Michigan natality data we show that in utero exposure to Ramadan among Arab births results in lower birthweight and reduced gestation length. Preconception exposure to Ramadan is also associated with fewer male births. Using Census data in Uganda we also find that Muslims who were born nine months after Ramadan are 22 percent (p =0.02) more likely to be disabled as adults. Effects are found for vision, hearing, and especially for mental (or ...