Health Economics - Fetal Origins and Inequality in Infant, Child, and Adolescent Development


This research area of the Jacobs Center explores how conditions during pregnancy, in early childhood, and during adolescence shape human capital development, labor market success, and health later in life.

A particular focus is set on pregnancy conditions such as in-utero exposure to seasonal influenza. Influenza is the leading infectious disease in the Western world. Pregnant mothers who catch the virus tend to develop strong inflammatory responses which have the potential to impair fetal development (Currie and Schwandt 2013), with long-lasting consequences for the offspring.

A second focus is set on mortality trends among infants, children, and young adults in the Western world, and the question whether mortality gaps between the rich and the poor have widened over time.

Data sets

A core data set used in this research area of the Jacobs Center is the Danish Register data, which combines birth, hospital, educational, and labor market registers for the entire Danish population over the past 35 years. Further data sets include the Vital Statistics (universe of births and deaths) and the Censuses of the U.S., Canada, and France, as well as health insurance data from Germany.

Principal Investigator

Hannes Schwandt

Current Research

Schwandt, Hannes (2017)
“The Lasting Legacy of Seasonal Influenza: In-utero Exposure and Labor Market Outcomes”
February 2017, IZA Working Paper 10589.

Baker, Michael, Janet Currie, and Hannes Schwandt (2017) “Mortality Inequality in Canada and the U.S.: Divergent or Convergent Trends?”, mimeo.

Currie, Janet, Hannes Schwandt, and Josselin Thuilliez (2017) “Inequality in mortality in France 1982-2012: A Geographic Approach”, mimeo.

Schwandt, Hannes and Till von Wachter (2017) “Unlucky Cohorts: Earnings, Income, and Mortality Effects from Entering the Labor Market in a Recession”, mimeo.

Completed Research

Currie, Janet, and Hannes Schwandt  (2016)
“Inequality in Mortality Decreased Among the Young While Increasing for Older Adults, 1990–2010”
Science, Vol. 352 (6286): 708-712.

Schwandt, Hannes, and Amelie Wuppermann (2016)
“The Youngest Get the Pill: ADHD Misdiagnosis and the Production of Education in Germany”
Labour Economics, Vol. 43, 72-86.

Currie, Janet, and Hannes Schwandt  (2016)
“The 9/11 Dust Cloud and Pregnancy Outcomes: A Reconsideration”
Journal of Human Resources, 2016, Vol. 51 (4): 805-831.

Currie, Janet, and Hannes Schwandt  (2016)
“Mortality Inequality: The Good News from a County-Level Approach”
Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 30(2): 29-52

Media Coverage

National Geographic, Dec. 27, 2016:
“Hazardous 9/11 Dust Made Newborn Babies Smaller”

The Economist, May 14 2016 (lead article US section):
“Looking up”

The New York Times, June 17 2016:
“Good News Hidden in the Data: Today’s Children Are Healthier”

The Washington Post, May 5 2016:
“The tremendously good news about the young that we’ve been ignoring”

The Atlantic, May 10 2016:
“The Mystery of Why Black Americans Are Living Longer”

Chicago Tribune, May 20 2016:
“Money doesn’t buy as long a life as it used to”

Frankfurter Rundschau, September 4 2015:
”Einfach nur zappelig oder krank?”

Previous Related Research

Currie, Janet, and Hannes Schwandt  (2013)
“Within-mother Analysis of Seasonal Patterns in Health at Birth”
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).