1,694 research outputs found

    The effects of maternal fasting during Ramadan on birth and adult outcomes

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    We use the Islamic holy month of Ramadan as a natural experiment for evaluating the short and long-term effects of fasting during pregnancy. Using Michigan natality data we show that in utero exposure to Ramadan among Arab births results in lower birthweight and reduced gestation length. Preconception exposure to Ramadan is also associated with fewer male births. Using Census data in Uganda we also find that Muslims who were born nine months after Ramadan are 22 percent (p =0.02) more likely to be disabled as adults. Effects are found for vision, hearing, and especially for mental (or learning) disabilities. This may reflect the persistent effect of disruptions to early fetal development. We find no evidence that negative selection in conceptions during Ramadan accounts for our results. Nevertheless, caution in interpreting these results is warranted until our findings are corroborated in other settings. ; Not for Citation.Prenatal care ; Ramadan ; Fasting (Islam)

    Capital, wages and growth: Theory and evidence

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    Returns to scale to capital and the strength of capital externalities play a key role for the empirical predictions and policy implications of different growth theories. We show that both can be identified with individual wage data and implement our approach at the city-level using US Census data on individuals in 173 cities for 1970, 1980, and 1990. Estimation takes into account fixed effects, endogeneity of capital accumulation, and measurement error. We find no evidence for human or physical capital externalities and decreasing aggregate returns to capital. Returns to scale to physical and human capital are around 80 percent. We also find strong complementarities between human capital and labor and substantial total employment externalities.Returns to scale to capital, human capital, capital externalities, complementarities, scale effects, cities

    Fasting During Pregnancy and Children's Academic Performance

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    We consider the effects of daytime fasting by pregnant women during the lunar month of Ramadan on their children's test scores at age seven. Using English register data, we find that scores are .05 to .08 standard deviations lower for Pakistani and Bangladeshi students exposed to Ramadan in early pregnancy. These estimates are downward biased to the extent that Ramadan is not universally observed. We conclude that the effects of prenatal investments on test scores are comparable to many conventional educational interventions but are likely to be more cost effective and less subject to "fade out".educational outcomes, pregnancy, fasting

    Fasting During Pregnancy and Children's Academic Performance

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    We consider the effects of daytime fasting by pregnant women during the lunar month of Ramadan on their children's test scores at age seven. Using English register data, we find that scores are .05 to .08 standard deviations lower for Pakistani and Bangladeshi students exposed to Ramadan in early pregnancy. These estimates are downward biased to the extent that Ramadan is not universally observed. We conclude that the effects of prenatal investments on test scores are comparable to many conventional educational interventions but are likely to be more cost effective and less subject to "fade out".

    The Costs of Low Birth Weight

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    Birth weight has emerged as the leading indicator of infant health and welfare and the central focus of infant health policy. This is because low birth weight (LBW) infants experience severe health and developmental difficulties that can impose enormous costs on society. But would the prevention of LBW generate equally sizable cost savings and health improvements? Estimates of the return to LBW-prevention from cross-sectional associations may be biased by omitted variables that cannot be influenced by policy, such as genetic factors. To address this, we compare the hospital costs, health at birth, and infant mortality rates between heavier and lighter infants from all twin pairs born in the United States. We also examine the effect of maternal smoking during pregnancy the leading risk factor for LBW in the United States on health among singleton births after controlling for detailed background characteristics. Both analyses imply substantially smaller effects of LBW than previously thought, suggesting two possibilities: 1) existing estimates overstate the true costs and consequences of LBW by at least a factor of four and by as much as a factor of 20; or 2) different LBW-preventing interventions have different health and cost consequences, implying that policy efforts that presume a single return to reducing LBW will necessarily be suboptimal.

    Human Capital Development Before Age Five

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    This chapter seeks to set out what Economists have learned about the effects of early childhood influences on later life outcomes, and about ameliorating the effects of negative influences. We begin with a brief overview of the theory which illustrates that evidence of a causal relationship between a shock in early childhood and a future outcome says little about whether the relationship in question biological or immutable. We then survey recent work which shows that events before five years old can have large long term impacts on adult outcomes. Child and family characteristics measured at school entry do as much to explain future outcomes as factors that labor economists have more traditionally focused on, such as years of education. Yet while children can be permanently damaged at this age, an important message is that the damage can often be remediated. We provide a brief overview of evidence regarding the effectiveness of different types of policies to provide remediation. We conclude with a list of some of (the many) outstanding questions for future research. Hard-copy subscribers may access the tables for this paper here .

    Health Capital and the Prenatal Environment: The Effect of Maternal Fasting During Pregnancy

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    We use the Islamic holy month of Ramadan as a natural experiment in fasting and fetal health. In Michigan births 1989-2006, we find prenatal exposure to Ramadan among Arab mothers results in lower birthweight and reduced gestation length. Exposure to Ramadan in the first month of gestation is also associated with a sizable reduction in the number of male births. In Census data for Uganda, Iraq, and the US we find strong associations between in utero exposure to Ramadan and the likelihood of being disabled as an adult. Effects are particularly large for mental (or learning) disabilities. We also find significant effects on proxies for wealth, earnings, the sex composition of the adult population, and more suggestive evidence of effects on schooling. We find no evidence that negative selection in conceptions during Ramadan accounts for our findings, suggesting that avoiding Ramadan exposure during pregnancy is costly or the long-term effects of fasting unknown.
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