nep-dem New Economics Papers
on Demographic Economics
Issue of 2023‒11‒06
eight papers chosen by
Héctor Pifarré i Arolas, University of Wisconsin

  1. Fertility in High-Income Countries: Trends, Patterns, Determinants, and Consequences By Bloom, David E.; Kuhn, Michael; Prettner, Klaus
  2. Why Women Won By Claudia Goldin
  3. The Long Shadow of the Past: Early-Life Disease Environment and Later-Life Mortality By Noghanibehambari, Hamid; Fletcher, Jason M.
  4. The Hidden Cost of Firearm Violence on Pregnant Women and Their Infants By Janet Currie; Bahadir Dursun; Michael Hatch; Erdal Tekin
  5. Ethnic/Racial Disparities in DNA Methylation Age Profiles across the Lifespan By Juan Del Toro; Colin D. Freilich; Gianna Rea-Sandin; Kristian Markon; Sylia Wilson
  6. Intergenerational Transmission of Inequality: Maternal Endowments, Investments, and Birth Outcomes By Sadegh Eshaghnia; James J. Heckman
  7. Estimating Intergenerational Health Transmission in Taiwan with Administrative Health Records By Harrison Chang; Timothy J. Halliday; Ming-Jen Lin; Bhashkar Mazumder
  8. The Effect of Reducing Welfare Access on Employment, Health, and Children's Long-Run Outcomes By Hicks, Jeffrey; Simard-Duplain, Gaëlle; Green, David A.; Warburton, William P.

  1. By: Bloom, David E. (Harvard School of Public Health); Kuhn, Michael (IIASA - International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis); Prettner, Klaus (Vienna University of Economics and Business)
    Abstract: High-income countries have generally experienced falling fertility in recent decades. In most of these countries, the total fertility rate is now below the level that implies a stable population in the long run. This has led to concerns among economists, policymakers, and the wider public about the economic consequences of low fertility and population decline. In this contribution, we aim to i) describe the main determinants of low fertility in high-income countries, ii) assess its potential economic consequences, iii) discuss adjustment mechanisms for individuals and economies, iv) propose a simple economic framework to analyze the long-run economic impact of low fertility, and v) draw lessons for economic policymakers to react appropriately. While the economic challenges of low fertility are substantial, a thoughtful and consistent policy response can mitigate most of the adverse consequences.
    Keywords: low fertility, below replacement fertility, depopulation, economic consequences of population decline, long-run economic growth, economic policies to address low fertility
    JEL: J11 J13 O11
    Date: 2023–10
  2. By: Claudia Goldin
    Abstract: How, when, and why did women in the US obtain legal rights equal to men’s regarding the workplace, marriage, family, Social Security, criminal justice, credit markets, and other parts of the economy and society, decades after they gained the right to vote? The story begins with the civil rights movement and the somewhat fortuitous nature of the early and key women’s rights legislation. The women’s movement formed and pressed for further rights. Of the 155 critical moments in women’s rights history I’ve compiled from 1905 to 2023, 45% occurred between 1963 and 1973. The greatly increased employment of women, the formation of women’s rights associations, the belief that women’s votes mattered, and the unstinting efforts of various members of Congress were behind the advances. But women soon became splintered by marital status, employment, region, and religion far more than men. A substantial group of women emerged in the 1970s to oppose various rights for women, just as they did during the suffrage movement. They remain a potent force today.
    JEL: J01 J7 K31 N30
    Date: 2023–10
  3. By: Noghanibehambari, Hamid (University of Wisconsin-Madison); Fletcher, Jason M. (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
    Abstract: A recently growing literature evaluates the influence of early-life conditions on life-cycle health and mortality. This paper extends this literature by estimating the associations between birth-state infant mortality rates experienced during early-life (as a proxy for general disease environment, health-care access, and nutrition) and life-cycle mortality rates. Using the universe of death records in the US over the years 1979-2020 and implementing two-way fixed effect models, we find that a 10 percent rise in birth-state infant mortality rate is associated with about 0.23 percent higher age-specific mortality rate. These correlations are more concentrated in ages past 50, suggesting delayed effects of early-life exposures. Moreover, we find substantially larger correlations among nonwhites, suggesting that the observed racial disparities in mortality can partly be explained by disparities in early-life conditions. Further, we provide empirical evidence to argue that reductions in education, income, and socioeconomic scores are likely mechanism channels.
    Keywords: mortality, infant mortality, early-life exposures
    JEL: I18 J13 N31 N32
    Date: 2023–10
  4. By: Janet Currie; Bahadir Dursun; Michael Hatch; Erdal Tekin
    Abstract: Firearm violence is a pervasive public health crisis in the United States, with significant numbers of homicides involving firearms, including indiscriminate shootings in public spaces. This paper investigates the largely unexplored consequences of stress induced by these attacks on newborn health. We use two approaches to examine this question. First, we consider the "beltway sniper" attacks of 2002 as a natural experiment, using administrative birth records with maternal residential addresses in Virginia. The beltway sniper attacks, a series of random shootings in the Washington DC metropolitan area, led to significant terror and disruptions in daily life over a three-week period. We compare birth outcomes of children exposed to the attacks in utero due to timing or having a residential address near a shooting location to those who were not exposed. Second, we investigate the impact of in-utero exposure to mass shootings on infant health outcomes using restricted-access U.S. Vital Statistics Natality records from 2006 to 2019 and leveraging variation in the timing of mass shootings in counties where at least one shooting occurred. Our findings reveal that mass shootings impose substantial, previously unconsidered costs on pregnant women and their infants. Exposure to the beltway sniper attacks during pregnancy increased the likelihood of very low birthweight and very premature birth by 25 percent. The analysis based on national data from mass shootings confirms these findings, albeit with smaller effect sizes. These results underscore the need to recognize the broader impact of violence on vulnerable populations when assessing the true costs of firearm violence. Calculations based on our estimates suggest significant economic burdens, with the additional costs of the beltway sniper attacks reaching $15.5 billion in 2023 dollars and mass shootings imposing annual costs of seven billion dollars. These findings suggest that pregnant women and their infants may require additional support in the aftermath of mass gun violence.
    JEL: I12 I18 J13 K40
    Date: 2023–10
  5. By: Juan Del Toro (University of Minnesota); Colin D. Freilich (University of Minnesota); Gianna Rea-Sandin (University of Minnesota); Kristian Markon (University of Minnesota); Sylia Wilson (University of Minnesota)
    Abstract: Ethnic/racial disparities in DNA methylation age profiles have been commonly captured in relatively small, community samples of individuals from a single age group. Whether such findings extend to large, national samples of individuals is unclear, especially in studies covering multiple developmental periods, including childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. These DNA methylation profiles linked to age can be used to derive epigenetic clocks as indices of premature aging and inform possible cellular mechanisms linking ethnic/race-related adversities and ethnic/racial disparities in mortality and morbidity. Thus, the present descriptive study leveraged data from 3, 349 individuals who participated in one of two national and ethnically/racially diverse studies, the Future of Families and Child Wellbeing (FFCW) study and the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) Study. The FFCW study included repeated measures of children’s DNA methylation age profiles at age 9 (i.e., childhood) and age 15 (i.e., adolescence), and the MIDUS study included participants’ DNA methylation profiles at a single wave during adulthood. Results showed that ethnic/racial minorities exhibited more accelerated within-person changes in the GrimAge, PhenoAge, and Dunedin epigenetic clocks across childhood and adolescence and more accelerated between-person differences in the Dunedin epigenetic clock during adulthood. Collectively, both studies show robust ethnic/racial disparities in DNA methylation age profiles and underscore the need to address institutional racism and ethnocentrism in the United States.
    Keywords: DNA methylation; epigenetics; childhood; adolescence; adulthood; ethnicity/race
    JEL: J15
    Date: 2023–06
  6. By: Sadegh Eshaghnia; James J. Heckman
    Abstract: Newborn health is an important component in the chain of intergenerational transmission of disadvantage. This paper contributes to the literature on the determinants of health at birth in two ways. First, we analyze the role of maternal endowments and investments (education and smoking in pregnancy) on the probability of having a baby who is small for gestational age (SGA). We estimate both the total impact of maternal endowments on birth outcomes, and we also decompose it into a direct, “biological” effect and a “choice” effect, mediated by maternal behaviors. Second, we estimate the causal effects of maternal education and smoking in pregnancy, and investigate whether women endowed with different traits have different returns. We find that maternal cognition affects birth outcomes primarily through maternal education, that personality traits mainly operate by changing maternal smoking, and that the physical fitness of the mother has a direct, “biological” effect on SGA. We find significant heterogeneity in the effects of education and smoking along the distribution of maternal physical traits, suggesting that women with less healthy physical constitutions should be the primary target of prenatal interventions.
    JEL: I12 I14 J24
    Date: 2023–10
  7. By: Harrison Chang (University of Toronto); Timothy J. Halliday (University of HawaiÔi); Ming-Jen Lin (National University of Taiwan); Bhashkar Mazumder (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago)
    Abstract: We use population-wide administrative health records from Taiwan to estimate intergenerational persistence in health, providing the first estimates for a middle income country. We measure latent health by applying principal components analysis to a set of indicators for 13 broad ICD categories and quintiles of visits to a general practitioner. We find that the rank-rank slope in health between adult children and their parents is 0.22 which is broadly in line with results from other countries. Maternal transmission is stronger than paternal transmission and sons have higher persistence than daughters. Persistence is also higher at the upper tail of the parent health distribution. Persistence is lower when using inpatient data or when using total medical expenses and may overstate mobility. Health transmission is almost entirely unrelated to household income levels in Taiwan. We also find that that there are small geographic differences in health persistence across townships and that these are modestly correlated with area level income and doctor availability. Finally, by looking at persistence within health conditions that vary in their genetic component, we find little evidence that health persistence is driven by genetic factors.
    Keywords: intergenerational health mobility, mental health, physical health, United Kingdom
    JEL: J62 I14
    Date: 2023–10
  8. By: Hicks, Jeffrey (University of Toronto); Simard-Duplain, Gaëlle (Carleton University); Green, David A. (University of British Columbia, Vancouver); Warburton, William P. (Enterprise Economic Consulting)
    Abstract: Welfare caseloads in North America halved following reforms in the 1990s and 2000s. We study how this shift affected families by linking Canadian welfare records to tax returns, medical spending, educational attainment, and crime data. We find substantial and heterogeneous employment responses that increased average income despite reduced transfers. We find zero effects on aggregate health expenditures, but mothers saw reduced preventative care and increased mental health treatment, consistent with the transition to employment elevating time pressure and stress. We find no effect on teenagers' education and criminal charges as young adults but do find evidence of intergenerational welfare transmission.
    Keywords: welfare, income, health
    JEL: H23 H31 I14 I24 I38 J62
    Date: 2023–10

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