Nuremberg Research Seminar in Economics on 26 June 2024, LG 0.423

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You are invited to join the weekly Nuremberg Research Seminar in Economics on 26 June 2024, from 13.15 to 14.45 pm. The seminar will be held in room LG 0.423Johanna Kutz (University of St. Gallen) will be talking about „Uncovering Sources of Heterogeneity in the Effects of Maternal Smoking on Infants’ Health at Birth”.

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Maternal smoking during pregnancy is a substantial threat to infants’ health at birth, but beyond averages, its effects are not well understood. This study aims at identifying driving factors of heterogeneity in the effects of smoking on birth weight and other measures for health at birth. We propose a novel approach to decompose differences in treatment effects into factors driving heterogeneity, leveraging recent developments at the intersection of machine learning and econometrics. In a comprehensive sample of infants born in the US, we find that advanced mother’s age is a risk factor amplifying the effect of smoking on health at birth. Weight-related features, such as high prepregnancy body mass index and excessive weight gain, prove useful in mitigating the negative effects of smoking on birth weight but have mixed effects on other health measures. These findings can be useful for improved allocation of intensified assistance with smoking cessation for pregnant women. The analysis implies that allocation based on the identified key factors of heterogeneity has the potential to generate large healthcare expenditure savings and improve infants’ health at birth.