Economic downturns and infant health

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Abstract

We study the gender-specific impact of macroeconomic conditions around birth on infant health. We use a sample of over 50,000 respondents born between 1950 and 1994 from Lifelines—a cohort and biobank from the northern Netherlands. Our results show that high provincial unemployment rates decrease fertility and lead to a lower birthweight in boys. The negative impact of high unemployment on birthweight is particularly strong for boys born to older mothers and for babies born to smoking mothers.

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