The Effect of Violence on Birth Outcomes: Evidence from Homicides in Rural Brazil

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Koppensteiner, Martin Foureaux
Jun 2013
This paper uses microdata from Brazilian vital statistics natality and mortality data between 2000 and 2010 to estimate the impact of in-utero exposure to local violence -measured by homicide rates- on birth outcomes. Focusing on small communities, where it is more plausible that local homicide rates reflect actual exposure to violence, the analysis shows that exposure to violence during pregnancy leads to deterioration in birth outcomes: one extra homicide during the first trimester of pregnancy increases the probability of low birthweight by around 6 percent. Results are particularly pronounced among children of poorly educated mothers, implying that violence compounds the disadvantage that these children already suffer as a result of their households¿ lower socioeconomic status.