1) Conte Keivabu R, Cozzani M “Extreme temperatures, birth outcomes, and socioeconomic heterogeneity”
We combine Spanish vital statistics on more than 5 million urban births between 1985 and 2016 with meteorological data to investigate (1) the effect of temperature extremes on birth outcomes and (2) how this effect may vary by family socioeconomic background. There are three main findings. First, we observe a small but sizeable increase in the incidence of negative birth outcomes for children exposed to extreme heat in early gestation. Second, the effect is concentrated mostly among low-socioeconomic background mothers’ offspring. Third, there is some evidence that male newborns of low-socioeconomic background family may be more susceptible than females to extreme heat. Given the importance of birth outcomes for the well-being of the next generation, our results highlight how extreme temperatures may also contribute to the widening of pre-existing socioeconomic inequalities. The forecasted increase in extreme climatic events makes the results of this study concerning.
2) Cozzani M “Persistent Inequality at Birth. Social Background Differences in Birth Weight in Three British Cohorts”
Birth outcomes such as birth weight are important predictors of the socioeconomic success of the next generation. These are stratified along societal cleavages, such as class and ethnic origin, highlighting how they may represent a first mechanism of the transmission of inequality. Despite a growing interest in this developmental stage, little is known on the trends and underlying determinants. In this article, I investigate the association between maternal socioeconomic status and children’s birth outcomes (birth weight) across three different cohorts. Additionally, I perform mediation analysis to assess the degree to which maternal smoking habits during pregnancy account for this relationship. To answer my research questions, I draw from three UK cohort studies: the 1958 National Child Developmental Study (NCDS); the 1970 British Cohort (B70); and the 2001 Millennium Cohort study (MCS). There are two main results. First, low-SES mothers are more likely to have children with poor birth outcomes and this association has remained persistent throughout the last 50 years. Second, smoking explains a large part of this association, but only in the two most recent cohorts.
3) Gil-Hernández C, Cozzani M, Bernardi F “Birth Weight, Endowments and Early School Readiness: Do Parents Compensate or
Birth weight (BW) is a key predictor of child development and socioeconomic attainment. Yet, the consequences of BW are not biological destiny. Educational interventions are successful in offsetting the negative consequences of health shocks. Similarly, parents respond with investments to children’s birth endowments, influencing their later skill formation. This article tests whether high-socioeconomic status (SES) families are able to neutralize/compensate for prenatal health shocks thanks to their large pool of resources. We study two cohorts at age 5-11 drawing from the German Twin Life study. We implement twin fixed-effects models to estimate the causal effect of BW. Results show that lower-BW co-twins have worse academic performance, more behavioral problems and less intrinsic motivation than their heavier-BW co-twins. At age 5, we observe a causal effect of BW on academic performance and behavioral problems that fades away (or decreases) for high-SES children at age 11. We argue that this compensatory pattern at age 11 may be explained by high absolute levels of investments of high-SES families (e.g., cultural activities and warmth), but not by their relative allocation within families. Thus, we argue that biology is not destiny because (enriched) social environments may offset the detrimental effect of BW on skill formation.