In Utero Exposure to Radiation Fear and Birth Outcomes: Evidence from Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident
* 주관: 서울대학교 경제학부, 경제연구소 한국경제혁신센터, SSK, BK21
* 본 세미나는 BK21+(2023-1학기) 세미나 참석으로 인정됩니다.
- 세미나 참석인정을 원하는 학생은 세미나 종료 후 참석자 명단을 작성해주시기 바랍니다.
We study the impacts of radiation fear in utero on health at birth and five years later, using universal birth records linked to censuses in Japan. We are the first to assess maternal stress due to fear of an intangible and uncertain risk—radiation exposure. We leverage the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in 2011 and use a quasi-experimental setting by focusing on children whose expected birthdates were within a 280-day window to the accident. We find that radiation fear causes
a 30-gram decrease in birth weight, with significant increases in the risks of low birth weight and preterm delivery. The negative impact is concentrated at the lower end of birth weight distribution, indicating that high-risk newborns are most affected. The impact endures for a brief period after birth, with an increase in physical complaints at age two and a negligible effect at age five. The exposure to radiation fear in the first trimester has the largest impact since the fear lingered after the accident,
resulting in a longer cumulative exposure on the fetuses. The impact is less pronounced if mothers are well educated or fathers are with professional occupations, indicating that parents’ socioeconomic status and ability to collect information are important in mediating maternal stress. The findings have immediate implications for offspring health loss due to maternal stress from intangible risks like viruses.