An Economic Model of Amniocentesis Choice

Eduardo Fajnzylber, V. Joseph Hotz, Seth G. Sanders

NBER Working Paper No. 16306
Issued in August 2010
NBER Program(s):   CH

Medical practitioners typically utilize the following protocol when advising pregnant women about testing for the possibility of genetic disorders: Pregnant women over the age of 35 should be tested for Down syndrome and other genetic disorders; for younger women, such tests are discouraged since they can cause a miscarriage. The logic appears compelling. The rate at which amniocentesis causes a miscarriage is constant while genetic disorders rise over a woman's reproductive years. Hence the potential benefit from testing - being able to terminate a fetus with a genetic disorder - rises with maternal age. We argue that this logic is incomplete. While the benefits to testing rise with age, so do the costs. While undergoing an amniocentesis always entails the risk of miscarriage of a healthy fetus, these costs are lower at early ages, because there is a higher probability of being able to replace a miscarried fetus with a healthy birth at a later age. We develop and calibrate a dynamic model of amniocentesis choice to explore this tradeoff. For parameters that characterize realistic age patterns of chromosomal abnormalities, fertility rates and miscarriages following amniocentesis, our model implies a falling, rather than rising, rate of amniocentesis as women approach menopause.

download in pdf format
   (196 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16306

Published: “ An Economic Model of Amniocentesis Choice , ” (with Eduardo Fajnzylber and Seth G. San d- ers), Advances in Life Course Research , 15 (1), March 2010, 11 - 26.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Card, devicienti, and Maida w16192 Rent-sharing, Holdup, and Wages: Evidence from Matched Panel Data
Christiano and Fitzgerald w7257 The Band Pass Filter
Gorton w14398 The Subprime Panic
Dooley, Folkerts-Landau, and Garber w9971 An Essay on the Revived Bretton Woods System
Peri and Sparber w16332 Assessing Inherent Model Bias: An Application to Native Displacement in Response to Immigration
NBER Videos

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

Contact Us