Booms, busts, and babies' health

Rajeev Dehejia, Adriana Lleras-Muney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study the relationship between the unemployment rate at the time of a baby's conception and parental characteristics, parental behaviors, and babies' health. Babies conceived in times of high unemployment have a reduced incidence of low and very low birth weight, fewer congenital malformations, and lower postneonatal mortality. These health improvements are attributable both to selection (changes in the type of mothers who conceive during recessions) and to improvements in health behavior during recessions. Black mothers tend to be higher socioeconomic status (as measured by education and marital status) in times of high unemployment, whereas White mothers are less educated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1091-1130
Number of pages40
JournalQuarterly Journal of Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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