, Volume 55, Issue 1, pp 319–340 | Cite as

The Mexican Drug War and Early-Life Health: The Impact of Violent Crime on Birth Outcomes

  • Ryan BrownEmail author


This study examines the relationship between exposure to violent crime in utero and birth weight using longitudinal data from a household survey conducted in Mexico. Controlling for selective migration and fertility, the results suggest that early gestational exposure to the recent escalation of the Mexican Drug War is associated with a substantial decrease in birth weight. This association is especially pronounced among children born to mothers of low socioeconomic status and among children born to mothers who score poorly on a mental health index.


Birth outcomes Crime Selective fertility Mexico 



Financial support was provided by a T32 Training Grant in the Social, Medical, and Economic Demography of Aging from the National Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health. I am very grateful to Duncan Thomas, Daniel Rees, Seth Sanders, Erica Field, Elizabeth Frankenberg, V. Joseph Hotz, Alessandro Tarozzi, Andrea Velásquez; three anonymous referees; and participants at the Ninth Annual HiCN Workshop, the Population Association of America Annual Meeting in 2014, the Duke University Population Research Institute seminar series, and the Duke Labor and Development seminar series for their comments and advice while developing this article. I also acknowledge the data collection efforts made by the entire Mexican Family Life Survey team, without which this project would not be possible.

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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of Colorado DenverDenverUSA

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