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Civil conflict, gender-specific fetal loss, and selection: A new test of the Trivers-Willard hypothesis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-50
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Health Economics
Early online date21 Oct 2014
DateE-pub ahead of print - 21 Oct 2014
DatePublished (current) - Jan 2015


A sizeable economics literature explores the effect of prenatal shocks on later health or socioeconomic status. Work in other disciplines, following the seminal contribution of Trivers and Willard (1973), suggests that prenatal shocks may increase fetal loss and reduce the number of boys relative to girls at birth. This has been largely ignored in the economics literature and could affect the interpretation of estimates of the effect of prenatal shocks and that of gender in other applied economics contexts. This paper analyzes the effect of in utero exposure to a shock - civil conflict in Nepal - on (i) fetal loss, and (ii) gender and (iii) health at birth. Maternal fixed effects estimates show that exposed pregnancies are more likely to result in a miscarriage and in a female birth, but exposed newborns are neither smaller nor more subject to neonatal mortality.

    Research areas

  • Civil conflict, Fetal loss, Nepal, Sex ratio, Trivers-Willard

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    Rights statement: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Health Economics. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Health Economics, [urnal of Health Economics Volume 39, January 2015, Pages 31–50] DOI10.1016/j.jhealeco.2014.10.005

    Accepted author manuscript, 664 KB, PDF document


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