Maternal Dismissals during Pregnancy and the Health of Newborns
Speaker: Livia Menezes
Abstract: In this paper, we estimate the effect of plausibly exogenous job losses during pregnancy on birth and infant outcomes using administrative Brazilian vital statistics and employment records. We find that dismissals of pregnant single mothers from employment lead to lower mean birthweight, a 10% increase in low birthweight incidence and a substantial increase in infant mortality. However, birthweight rises for dismissed mothers in a marriage or stable union. We show that dismissals increase gestational length for both single and non-single mothers, lower the attendance at prenatal visits, reduce utilization of private clinics for delivery and reduce the take-up by mothers of planned C-sections. We provide novel evidence regarding the role of partners and financial resources in determining the sign and strength of these effects. Higher maternal income mitigates the negative effect of dismissals, likely due to self-insurance through savings and Severance Pay. The presence of a partner as well as the economic resources of that partner also play important roles in mitigating the negative effects of dismissals. In addition, we document considerable mitigating effects of formal unemployment insurance, exploiting the eligibility rule of unemployment insurance for identification. Our results show that the availability of formal and informal insurance against the economic fallout from layoffs limits the negative intergenerational spillovers of dismissals on the health of children.
Host: Tho Pham (York)