The Interplay Between Maternal Resources and Environmental Stressors: The Effects of an Earthquake on Birth Outcomes

Hector Cebolla-Boado
Leire Salazar , Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED)

Birth outcomes are known to be affected by maternal health and lifestyles, and generally speaking babies born in families with more socioeconomic resources tend to display better perinatal health. In this paper we focus on one relevant indicator of perinatal health, namely birth weight, which is highly correlated with later health and cognitive outcomes. Although medical research has extensively analyzed the maternal determinants of birth weight, less is known about environmental influences and especially about the interplay between mothers’ characteristics and exogenous factors. In this paper we exploit an exogenous shock, an earthquake that took place in the municipality of Lorca (region of Murcia, Spain) in 2011, and the availability of the universe of birth certificates in the country in that year, to test: (a) whether there is an association between (degrees of) exposure to the earthquake and lower birth weight, and (b) whether this adverse impact is homogeneously distributed across social classes.

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 Presented in Session 11. Health & Mortality 2