Special Issue Review

The intergenerational transmission of inequality: Maternal disadvantage and health at birth

23 May 2014
Vol 344, Issue 6186
pp. 856-861


Health at birth is an important predictor of long-term outcomes, including education, income, and disability. Recent evidence suggests that maternal disadvantage leads to worse health at birth through poor health behaviors; exposure to harmful environmental factors; worse access to medical care, including family planning; and worse underlying maternal health. With increasing inequality, those at the bottom of the distribution now face relatively worse economic conditions, but newborn health among the most disadvantaged has actually improved. The most likely explanation is increasing knowledge about determinants of infant health and how to protect it along with public policies that put this knowledge into practice.

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Supplementary Material


Figs. S1 to S4


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References and Notes

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Volume 344 | Issue 6186
23 May 2014

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The authors thank H. Schwandt for assistance in preparing the figures. J.C. received financial support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and for support from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant EPA G2009-STAR-B1. The authors have no conflicts of interest to report.



Anna Aizer
Department of Economics, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA.
National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
Janet Currie* [email protected]
National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
Department of Economics, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA.


Corresponding author. E-mail: [email protected]

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