Born at the right time? Childhood health and the business cycle

We analyze the relationship between the state of the business cycle at birth and childhood health. We use a retrospective survey on self-reported childhood health for ten Western European countries and combine it with historically and internationally comparable data on the Gross Domestic Product. We validate the self-reported data by comparing them to realized illness spells. We find a positive relationship between being born in a recession and childhood health. This relationship is not driven by selection effects due to heightened infant mortality during recessions. Placebo regressions indicate that the observed effect is not spurious.

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