Is There an Effect of Inequality on Child and Maternal Health?

Aparna Lhila, Cornell University
Ray Swisher, Cornell University

Our study provides the first comprehensive analysis of the link between income inequality and infant and maternal health. We examine this link at multiple levels of aggregation (state and MSA), controlling for state and MSA characteristics, as well as individual variables including socioeconomic status. Health outcomes include infant mortality, birth weight, APGAR scores, and mothers weight gain and smoking during pregnancy. Results are assessed across multiple measures of inequality, and across socioeconomic subgroups. Individual data is taken from all birth certificates between 1989 and 2002, while MSA and State inequality measures are from the decennial Censuses. At the aggregate level, we find state-level inequality to be negatively associated with health. At the individual level, income inequality is negatively associated with birth weight and increases the probability of prenatal tobacco use. These results persist after controlling for community-level average income, community fixed-effects and individual covariates.

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Presented in Poster Session 6: Migration, Urbanization, Neighborhood and Residential Context