Long-term Consequences of Early Life Experiences
Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM
- Chair: Catherine Maclean, Temple University
The Effect of an Income Shock at Birth on Child Health: Evidence from a Child Benefit in Spain
AbstractFamily income has been shown to be strongly associated with child health and development, in different countries and time periods. However, the extent to which this relationship is causal has been hard to establish. I take advantage of the unexpected introduction of a generous child benefit in Spain in 2007 to analyze the effect of a (transitory) shock to household income right after birth on child health outcomes. I follow a regression discontinuity approach, comparing children born in a close neighborhood of the threshold date for benefit eligibility (which was unknown in advance), from birth to age 5. I use administrative data from birth and death certificates, as well as hospital records. My contribution relies on a credible and clean identification strategy, combined with high-quality administrative data, for a type of subsidy that is common in many countries (a “maternity allowance”). I find no significant effect of the subsidy on neonatal, infant or child mortality. However, children whose mothers were eligible for the transfer had significantly higher hospitalization rates in the months and years following benefit receipt. I study potential channels that can explain this result, and conclude that the child benefit most likely did not improve the health of eligible children, but it did increase their health care utilization. Eligible mothers took longer to go back to work after birth, which may have improved detection and treatment of child health problems.
The Roles of Neonatal Health and Race in Special Education Identification
AbstractAlthough approximately 13 percent of school aged children in the United States are classified as disabled and served via special education, little is known about the causes of disabilities. Despite suggestive evidence that some disabilities (e.g. autism) are linked to physical development and health, special education diagnosis is highly correlated with socioeconomic status (NCES, 2007) and race, with mixed evidence of higher identification rates amongst minorities (Patton, 1998, Donovan and Cross, 2002, Albrecht et al, 2012). While some infant health outcomes (e.g. birth weight and gestational age), are associated with disability diagnosis or identification in special education (Chyi et al., 2008; Zwicker and Harris, 2008), a potential problem with most studies conducted to date is that neonatal health is itself closely related to, and causally impacted by, economic factors (Aber et al, 1997; Amarante et al, 2016).
Using population-level data from the state of Florida on birth records matched with school records, we can credibly estimate the relationship between early health and disability status in new a way that accounts for the socioeconomic factors that potentially bias existing studies. Using a family fixed effects model, we compare siblings who differ on their birth characteristics to determine which early health outcomes are linked to disability status later in life. We find that birth weight and gestational age have clear negative relationships with special education identification, even when accounting for time invariant socioeconomic characteristics by comparing siblings in the same family. Using the birth records data, we then estimate Blinder-Oaxaca decompositions to determine how minority students would be identified if they were observably similar white students. We then track how gaps vary with the racial compositions of students' schools. Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition shows significant under-identification when conditioning on observables for both blacks and Hispanics. Black-White under-identification becomes larger as percent black in school increases.
Scarring Versus Selective Mortality: The Long-term Effects of Early Life Exposure to Natural Disasters in the Philippines
AbstractThis paper analyzes the effects of early life exposure to varying degrees of severity of natural disasters and disaster preparedness on mortality and survivors' long-term human capital outcomes in the Philippines. We exploit variations in both the geographical path and intensity of typhoons and changes in disaster preparedness. Improvements in disaster response policies after Ferdinand Marcos came to power in 1965 allow us to disentangle selective mortality from the long-term scarring effects of negative shocks. We find that the long term adverse effects are driven by in-utero exposure to severe typhoons, and disaster preparedness mitigates the effects on mortality. Before the Marcos regime, in-utero exposure to severe typhoons led to significantly higher levels of mortality; however, the surviving cohorts on average exhibit similar levels of human capital as unaffected cohorts. Under the Marcos regime, when disaster relief funds were higher than in earlier periods, in-utero exposure to severe typhoons had little impact on mortality, but survivors' education attainment and occupational prestige were lower. These adverse effects are stronger within families and among those born to disadvantaged parents.
- I0 - General