Maternal prenatal stress and birth weight
evidence from 2016 Gyeongju earthquake in South Korea
A growing literature highlights that maternal prenatal stress has negative effects on birth outcomes, but the causal evidence is scarce. This study looks at the impact of the maternal prenatal stress caused by 2016 Gyeongju earthquake on birth weights. Using a difference-in-differences methodology, I find that in utero exposure to the earthquake significantly decreases the birth weights of children born in Gyeongju-si county. The negative effects are focused on those cohorts who were exposed during the third trimester of gestation and female infants. The findings are robust to use an alternative measure for earthquake intensity and the restricted sample, including only Gyeongsang-do region. These results provide the first evidence on the relationship between earthquake exposure and birth outcomes in Korea.
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