N. Meltem Daysal, Hui Ding, Maya Rossin-Slater, Hannes Schwandt, 04 January 2022

Pandemics have a major impact on households and the economy. But how common endemic viruses affect long-term population human capital and economic outcomes is not well understood. This column uses data from Denmark to explore the mechanisms and consequences of a child’s exposure to respiratory disease in early life. Younger siblings have two to three-times higher rates of hospitalisation for respiratory conditions during their first year of life compared to older siblings. The family unit plays a central role in virus transmission and birth order can influence children’s longer-term outcomes.

Hannes Schwandt, 02 June 2020

Worries about the impact of COVID-19 on pregnant mothers and their offspring are wide-spread. As a comparison, the Spanish Flu pandemic had devastating health impacts on pregnant mothers and in-utero exposure to influenza is known to have negative short- and long-term consequences for children. This column, however, argues that the existing evidence from the COVID-19 pandemic allows for cautious optimism about the impacts of COVID-19 on pregnant women and their children.

Gabriella Conti, 01 May 2020

While the COVID-19 pandemic has global reach, it is not affecting everyone equally. This column focuses on the first years of life and notes how the pandemic is likely to have more adverse effects for vulnerable parents and children. Given that early experiences can have an enduring impact on long-term health and socioeconomic outcomes, it argues that sustaining early childhood interventions is critical to avoid the worsening of inequalities in human development.

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