Exposure to Economic Distress during Pregnancy and Birth Outcomes

Akbulut-Yuksel M., Cılasun S. M., Tekin E., Turan B.

Journal of Labor Research, vol.45, no.1, pp.1-29, 2024 (SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 45 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s12122-024-09354-z
  • Journal Name: Journal of Labor Research
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, IBZ Online, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Periodicals Index Online, ABI/INFORM, Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, EconLit, INSPEC, PAIS International, Political Science Complete, Public Affairs Index, Social services abstracts, Sociological abstracts, SportDiscus, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.1-29
  • Keywords: Childhood environment, Economic crisis, I14, I15, Infant health, J13
  • TED University Affiliated: Yes


This paper uses the severe economic crisis in Turkey in 2008-2009 as a quasi-experiment to evaluate the impact of worsening economic conditions during pregnancy on birthweight. Using birth history data from the 2008 and 2013 waves of the Demographic Health Surveys, we find that the economic crisis resulted in decreased birthweight in Turkey, especially impacting infants born to mothers with lower educational levels. Furthermore, a procyclical relationship exists between provincial income levels and the birthweight of infants born to mothers with lower levels of education. However, this relationship is only statistically significant during the crisis period. These results highlights how economic constraints on mothers with lower socio-economic status during economic crises can negatively affect birth outcomes. Furthermore, we examine shifts in fertility behavior and find a decrease in childbirth rates during the crisis, particularly in economically disadvantaged provinces. In line with this decrease in fertility, we also observe a reduced propensity to seek an abortion during the crisis period. Overall, these findings underscore the importance of understanding how economic crises affect infant health and the need for targeted interventions to support vulnerable populations, as well as addressing underlying socio-economic disparities to mitigate their impact on infant well-being.