Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Lund University, Department of Economics

No 2018:35: Cesarean Sections for High-Risk Births: Health, Fertility and Labor Market Outcomes

Hanna Mühlrad ()
Additional contact information
Hanna Mühlrad: Department of Economics, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economics, School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Box 7082, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: Despite the fact that Cesarean section (C-section) is the most commonly performed surgery in a number of industrialized countries, little is known about the long-term consequences for the mothers and children involved. In this study, I use a sample of high-risk births—namely, breech births, in which the fetus is presented with its head upward instead of downward—to study the causal effect of C-sections on child health and on the health, fertility and labor market responses for mothers. Because selection into C-section may be endogenous, I exploit an information shock to doctors in 2000, in which new scientific evidence about the benefits of planned C-sections for breech births led to a sharp 23% increase in planned C-sections. Using Swedish registry data, I find that having a C-section improves child health in both the short and long run, indicated by higher Apgar scores at birth and fewer nights hospitalized during ages 1-7. I find little evidence to suggest any significant impact on maternal health, future fertility or maternal labor market outcomes.

Keywords: Cesarean Section; Fertility; Maternal Health; Child Health; Birth Technology; Labor Market Outcomes

JEL-codes: I11; I12; I38; J13; J24

56 pages, October 29, 2018

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