Metropolitan Economic Decline and Infant Mortality Due to Unintentional Injury

Tim-Allen Bruckner, University of California, Berkeley

Health professionals assert that parents could prevent infant mortality due to unintentional injury (IMUI) by creating a safe infant environment. Examples of safe parenting behaviors include attending to a bathing infant, securing a child safety seat in a motor vehicle, and removing soft pillows from a crib. The contraction of regional economies, an ambient phenomenon previously reported to affect salutary behaviors, may distract parents from these routine infant monitoring tasks. I test this distraction hypothesis that the monthly incidence of IMUI will vary inversely with the performance of the economy. I retrieve birth data on 2,618,752 infants and economic data for all 26 metropolitan areas of California. Results support the hypothesis in that declines in employed persons coincide with an increase of IMUI. Findings remain robust to control for individual covariates. Parents may respond to regional economic decline by allocating less energy and attention to routine infant monitoring tasks.

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Presented in Session 129: Infant and Child Mortality