NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Laura Stroud

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Working Papers

September 2012Maternal Stress and Child Outcomes: Evidence from Siblings
with Anna Aizer, Stephen Buka: w18422
We study how maternal stress affects offspring outcomes. We find that in-utero exposure to elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol negatively affects offspring cognition, health and educational attainment. These findings are based on comparisons between siblings which limits variation to short-lived shocks and controls for unobserved differences between mothers that could bias estimates. Our results are consistent with recent experimental results in the neurobiological literature linking exogenous exposure to stress hormones in-utero with declines in offspring cognitive, behavioral and motor development. Moreover, we find that not only are mothers with low levels of human capital characterized by higher and more variable cortisol levels, but that the negative impact of elevated cort...
March 2010Education, Knowledge and the Evolution of Disparities in Health
with Anna Aizer: w15840
We study how advances in scientific knowledge affect the evolution of disparities in health. Our focus is the 1964 Surgeon General Report on Smoking and Health – the first widely publicized report of the negative effects of smoking on health. Using an historical dataset that includes the smoking habits of pregnant women 1959-1966, we find that immediately after the 1964 Report, more educated mothers immediately reduced their smoking as measured by both self-reports and serum cotinine levels, while the less educated did not, and that the relative health of their newborns likewise increased. We also find strong peer effects in the response to information: after the 1964 report, educated women surrounded by other educated women were more likely to reduce smoking relative to those surrounded...

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