What is it about?

The net, positive, effect of unemployment at conception on birth outcomes in developed countries is likely overestimated in the literature. This is the consequence of ignoring the effects of unemployment during pregnancy. Using data from Israel, we not only confirm this finding but also find that the harmful effects of unemployment in the third trimester are large enough to offset any preceding positive effects. Stress and nutritional deficiencies due to economic contractions during pregnancy are at least as important as the positive self-selection at conception. This finding calls for policy intervention to support pregnant women even in developed countries.

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Why is it important?

Previous seminal studies showed that recessions can promote healthy lifestyle that leads to healthier births. This study overturns this finding on its head, at least for a developed country.


Important research has shown that recessions can promote healthy behaviors of pregnant women, and thus is associated with healthy newborns (measured by their birthweight). This study simply finds that the previous findings are just an optical illusion.

Muhammad Asali

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This page is a summary of: Recessions are Not Good for Your Health: The Counter-Cyclical Health Outcomes Revisited, SSRN Electronic Journal, January 2015, Elsevier, DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.2589840.
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