Daniel Auer, Johannes Kunz, 10 May 2022

Existing research on the integration of refugees has focused on the impact on the refugees themselves. This column uses the random allocation of refugees in Switzerland to show how allocation has significant effects even on future generations. Compared to children of refugees allocated to regions with an unfamiliar language, the children of mothers allocated to a familiar language environment have a higher birth weight on average, which is a predictor of outcomes including educational attainment, income, and health later in life. 

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.

George Wehby, Dhaval Dave, Robert Kaestner, 26 September 2016

Despite ample research on the effects of minimum wage increases on employment, there has been little consensus on the effects of such increases on workers’ broader welfare, and in particular on their health and that of their families. This column analyses comprehensive data from the US on the effects of minimum wage increases on the health of children born to low-income workers. It finds that the increases have a significant positive impact on birth weights. This has important policy implications, with infant health acting as a reliable indicator of future health.

Martin Koppensteiner, Marco Manacorda, 18 April 2016

Stress and violence during the nine months in utero has been widely shown to have important effects on child development. To date this research has largely focused on extreme and relatively rare events. This column uses data from Brazil to explore how exposure to day-to-day violence can affect birth weight. The birth weight of newborns whose mothers are exposed to a homicide during their first trimester is significantly lower. This effect is smaller for mothers who live in more violent neighbourhoods, consistent with the interpretation that violence is more stressful when it is rare. 

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