Professor Douglas Almond shares his research on maternal avoidance behavior against pollution and infant health in China

January 24, 2019

That prenatal events can have life-long consequences is now well established in both economics and public health. Nevertheless, research on the fetal origins hypothesis is flourishing. Why does this literature have a "second act?" A relatively recent finding is that mild and brief shocks in early life can have substantial negative impacts later in life.  As a result, lifelong health and human capital can be improved at zero cost by re-allocating investments to earlier in the life cycle. Still, relatively little is known about what shapes parents' decisions over how they might invest in their young children.

On Jan. 24, 2019, Columbia Global Centers | Beijing invited Professor Douglas Almond, Professor of Economics and International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, to share his research on maternal avoidance behavior against pollution and infant health in China.

Professor Almond illustrated the fetal origins hypothesis and their economic implications, as well as his proposed work that will disseminate improved information on health risks in Shanxi province. He and his team have initiated a collaboration with Shanxi Medical University to implement a randomization of improved pollution information to outpatients in six hospitals in Taiyuan. Of key interest is whether individuals take (costly) avoidance measures in response to improved pollution information, such as spending more time indoors on high-pollution days.  In turn, Professor Almond will assess whether this response helps protect infant health, and thereby improves outcomes throughout the life course.

More than 107,000 people watched the event online.

Douglas Almond