Heterogenous mechanisms in WWII stress transmission: evidence from a natural experiment

Atella VincenzoDi Porto EdoardoKOPINSKA JOANNA
CEIS Research Paper
This paper analyses how in utero exposure to maternal stress from WWII affects long- term health and economic outcomes and describes different mechanisms at work, showing that current health conditions are heterogeneously related to the type of fetal stressor. We exploit the Italian armistice of September 8th 1943 as exogenous variation in the war intensity, providing WWII long-run causal effects on objectively measured health and economic outcomes. We find that in utero exposure to intense WWII events had long- lasting effects on health and that Nazi massacres predict late-onset depression, while nutritional deprivation suffered in large cities had lasting effects on diabetes. Finally, we innovate by showing that these effects increase with the age of the treated individuals.

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Number: 385
Keywords: Fetal programming hypothesis; War exposure; Nazi massacres, Stress; Famine; Chronic diseases; Health expenditure, Long-term effects, Italy.
JEL codes: I1, O1
Volume: 14
Issue: 9
Date: Thursday 23 June 2016
Revision Date: Tuesday 01 August 2017