Deteriorating Birth Weights Among Descendants of Black Immigrant Women

Theresa Andrasfay , Princeton University
Noreen Goldman, Princeton University

Using Florida birth records from 1971 – 2015, we link birth records of infants to the birth records of their mothers in order to compare birth weights between descendants of immigrant grandmothers and US-born grandmothers. We find that the daughters of black immigrant women have substantially higher birth weights than the daughters of US-born black women. However, the granddaughters of foreign-born black immigrant women have a much smaller advantage, and exhibit a steep decline in birth weight and a steep increase in the probability of low birth weight relative to their mothers. In contrast, descendants of both US-born and foreign-born white grandmothers maintain relatively high birth weights in both generations. Observable socioeconomic characteristics and medical risk factors do not explain why descendants of foreign-born black women exhibit such a dramatic change in these outcomes.

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 Presented in Session 104. International Migration and Child Well-being