The Intergenerational Impact of Terror: The Extended Reach of the 9/11 Tragedy

Ryan P. Brown, Duke University

Due to the unexpected nature of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 a random cohort of in utero children where exogenously insulted by increased maternal stress. The goal of this study is to rigorously examine the casual effect of maternal stress on birth outcomes. To explore this question, it is imperative to avoid two identification pitfalls common in natural experiment studies of this topic: non-stress related negative externalities and post-event endogenous fertility selection. To achieve this end, this analysis excludes those most at risk of health and resource shocks unrelated to stress, New York City and Washington D.C. residents, and does not rely on the positively selected post-event birth cohorts. Results suggest that the children exposed while in utero were born significantly smaller and early than previous cohorts. Specifically, intrauterine growth is restricted by early exposure to stress, while gestational age is hindered by psychological distress in mid pregnancy.

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Presented in Session 170: Contextual and Environmental Influences on Children’s Health and Well-Being