Giving Birth under the Weather

Researcher: Sandra Aguilar-Gomez, PhD Student in Sustainable Development

Previous work has documented robustly the impact of climate change on short and some long run child health outcomes, but the mechanisms of these impacts have not been disentangled. In this paper, the researcher seeks to fill part of this gap by studying a critical part of childbearing: delivery. Using a novel patient-level administrative data set that contains all the diagnoses and treatments that each woman received during the delivery, she studies the impact of heat waves in Mexico on infant health and on obstetric care, and by looking at weather shocks during the day of delivery, isolating the well-established adverse impact of in-utero exposure to heat from the two mechanisms that interplay in the day of birth: physician's productivity responses to heat and hospital crowding. With a hospital-level fixed effects linear probability model, she uses temperature bins to model individual and hospital outcomes as flexible functions of temperature.

Results identify a positive and monotonous relationship between the maximum temperature on the day of delivery and the probability of poor birth outcomes for children and mothers. On the other hand, an inverted U-shape relationship between temperature and certain medical procedures is found, suggestive evidence of a mismatch between women's needs and health services provided.