NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

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

Douglas Almond, Bhashkar Mazumder

NBER Working Paper No. 14428
Issued in October 2008
NBER Program(s):   AG   CH   HE

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.

download in pdf format
   (2729 K)

email paper

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

This paper is available as PDF (2729 K) or via email.

This paper was revised on December 5, 2011

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w14428

Published: ³+HDOWK&DSLWDODQGWKH3UHQDWDO(QYLURQPHQW7KH(IIHFWRI5DPDGDQ2EVHUYDQFH'XULQJ3 UHJQDQF\ ́ ZLWK Bhashkar Mazumder). A m e r i c a n E c o n o m i c J o u r n a l : A p p l i e d E c o n o m i c s , 3 (October 2011), 56 - 85.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Almond, Mazumder, and van Ewijk w17713 Fasting During Pregnancy and Children's Academic Performance
Almond and Currie w15827 Human Capital Development Before Age Five
Almond, Hoynes, and Schanzenbach w14306 Inside the War on Poverty: The Impact of Food Stamps on Birth Outcomes
Almond, Edlund, Li, and Zhang w13384 Long-Term Effects Of The 1959-1961 China Famine: Mainland China and Hong Kong
Almond, Edlund, and Milligan w15391 O Sister, Where Art Thou? The Role of Son Preference and Sex Choice: Evidence from Immigrants to Canada
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us