Intergenerational mobility, early health shocks and public policy
PROJECT MANAGER: KJELL GUNNAR SALVANES
Project duration: 2015-2018
The project is funded by the FRIHUMSAM program of the Research Council of Norway.
|SANDRA E. BLACK, PAUL J. DEVEREUX, AND KJELL G. SALVANES, AMERICAN ECONOMIC JOURNAL: APPLIED ECONOMICS, 8(1), 2016, 193-223|
|Using population data from Norway, we examine the effects of stress induced by the death of the mother's parent during pregnancy on both the short-run and the long-run outcomes of the infant. Using a variety of empirical strategies to address the issue of nonrandom exposure to death during a pregnancy, we find small negative effects on birth outcomes. However, we find no evidence of adverse effects on adult outcomes. This suggests that, though there may be measurable effects on birth outcomes, acute psychological stressors during pregnancy have limited adverse consequences for the child's success in education and the labor market.|
|ALINE BÜTIKOFER. KATRINE LØKEN, AND KJELL G. SALVANES|
|A growing literature documents the positive long-term effects of policy-induced improvements in early-life health and nutrition. However, there is still scarce evidence on early-life health programs targeting a large share of the population and the role of such programs in increasing intergenerational mobility. This paper uses the rollout of mother and child health care centers in Norway, which commenced in the 1930s, to study the long-term consequences of increasing access to well-child visits. These well-child visits included a physical examination and the provision of information about adequate infant nutrition. Our results indicate that access to mother and child health care centers had a positive effect on education and earnings: access in the first year of life increased the completed years of schooling by 0.15 years and earnings by two percent. The effects were stronger for children from a low socioeconomic background. In addition, we find that individuals suffer from fewer health risks at age 40 and positive effects on adult height, which support the fact that better nutrition within the first year of life is the likely mechanism behind our findings. While there is increasing knowledge on the benefits of various types of early childhood programs, the costs are often neglected, making it hard to compare different programs. We add to this by showing that investments in mother and child health care centers pass a simple cost-benefit analysis.|
|ALINE BÜTIKOFER AND KJELL G. SALVANES|
|This paper examines the economic impact of a tuberculosis control program launched in Norway in 1948. In the 1940s, Norway had one of the highest tuberculosis infection rates in Europe, affecting about 85 percent of the inhabitants. To lower the disease burden, the Norwegian government launched a large-scale tuberculosis testing and vaccination campaign that substantially reduced tuberculosis infection rates among children. We find that cohorts in school during and after the campaign in municipalities with high tuberculosis prevalence gained more in terms of education, income, and longevity following this public health intervention. The results also suggest that individuals from a low socioeconomic background benefited more from the intervention. Hence, we present new evidence that a narrowing of the gap in childhood health can lead to a reduction in socioeconomic inequalities in adulthood.|
|SANDRA E. BLACK, ALINE BÜTIKOFER, PAUL J. DEVEREUX, AND KJELL G. SALVANES|
Research increasingly shows that differences in endowments at birth need not be genetic but instead are influenced by environmental factors while the fetus is in the womb. In addition, these differences may persist well beyond childhood. In this paper, we study one such environmental factor – exposure to radiation —that affects individuals across the socio-economic spectrum. We use variation in radioactive exposure throughout Norway in the 1950s and early 60s, resulting from the abundance of nuclear weapon testing during that time period, to examine the effect of nuclear exposure in utero on outcomes such as IQ scores, education, earnings, and adult height, as well as whether these effects persist into the next generation. We find that exposure to low-dose nuclear radiation, specifically during months 3 and 4 in utero, leads to a decline in IQ scores of men aged 18. Moreover, radiation exposure leads to declines in education attainment, high school completion, and earnings among men and women. We are also able to examine whether these effects persist across a second generation – Importantly, we find that the children of persons affected in utero also have lower cognitive scores, suggesting a persistent intergenerational effect of the shock to endowments. Given the lack of awareness about nuclear testing in Norway at this time, our estimates are likely to be unaffected by avoidance behavior or stress effects. These results are robust to the choice of specification and the inclusion of sibling fixed effects.