Temporal Trends and Geographic Heterogeneity in Ethnoracial Birth Disparities: Evidence From Natality Records, 1970–2010

Kiara Douds, New York University
Ethan Raker , Harvard University

Prior research finds associations between birth weight and several health and social outcomes, including mortality and earnings, and scholars have documented disparities in this early-life health marker between ethnic and racial groups in the United States. In this paper, we document for the first time temporal and geographic variation in ethnoracial birth disparities in the United States using restricted-access, population-level natality data for 1970-2009 (n=140,114,151) linked at the county level with data from four decennial censuses (1970-2000). Early state-level descriptive analyses show that the black-white gap in average birth weight is the greatest, relative to other ethnoracial groups compared to whites, but that the magnitude of disparities varies greatly across time and space. Our proposed analysis seeks to use this variation to identify contextual factors that contribute to these disparities and thereby suggest mechanisms of these temporal-spatial inequalities.

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 Presented in Session 190. Spatial Effects on Reproductive Health and Fertility