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The infant health effects of starting universal child benefits in pregnancy: evidence from England and Wales

Reader, Mary ORCID: 0000-0002-2154-1813 (2023) The infant health effects of starting universal child benefits in pregnancy: evidence from England and Wales. Journal of Health Economics, 89. ISSN 0167-6296

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2023.102751

Abstract

Child benefits are typically paid from birth. This paper asks whether starting universal child benefits in pregnancy leads to improvements in infant health. Leveraging administrative birth registry and hospital microdata from England and Wales, I study the effects of the Health in Pregnancy Grant, a universal conditional cash transfer equivalent to three months of child benefit (190 GBP) as a lump sum to pregnant mothers from 2009 to 2011. I exploit quasi-experimental variation in eligibility with a regression discontinuity design in the date of birth of the baby. I find that the policy increased birth weight by 8–12 grams on average, reduced low birth weight (<2500 g) by 3-6 percent and decreased prematurity by 9–11 percent. Younger mothers, particularly those living in deprived areas, benefit the most. I present evidence that the mechanisms are unlikely to be antenatal care, nutrition or smoking, with reductions in stress remaining a possible explanation.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/journal-of-h...
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author
Divisions: Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
JEL classification: I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I3 - Welfare and Poverty > I38 - Government Policy; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2023 16:57
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2024 20:00
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/118458

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