NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Evolution of the Infant Health Production Function

Hope Corman, Dhaval M. Dave, Nancy E. Reichman

NBER Working Paper No. 24131
Issued in December 2017
NBER Program(s):Children, Health Care, Health Economics

Michael Grossman’s seminal publication on the demand for health and health production (Grossman 1972) has spawned a substantial body of research focusing on the production of infant health. This article provides a systematic review of the published literature to date on infant health production and how it has evolved over the past 3-4 decades as data have become more available, computing has improved, and econometric methods have become more sophisticated. While empirical research in most fields has expanded in corresponding ways, the infant health production research has become an important part of the broader and inherently multidisciplinary literature on intergenerational health. The strongest and most robust findings are that policies matter for infant health, particularly those affecting access to health care, and that prenatal smoking and other chemical exposures substantially compromise infant health. Promising directions for future research include elucidating relevant pathways, reconciling the largely inconsistent estimated effects of nutrition and education, and exploring the roles of pre-conceptional and lifetime health care, paternal factors, social support, housing, complementarity and substitutability of inputs, factors that modify effects of inputs, and evolving medical technologies.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24131

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