Institute of Human Development and Social Change

lab Project

About the Project

The early period of life has consequences for individual health, educational, and socioeconomic outcomes.  While most research restrict this concern to events after birth, there is no good reason to do so. If, as research indicates, the prenatal period is sensitive to environment and has long-term effects, attention should be given to this period. 

This project examines the consequences of prenatal exposure to maternal stress on children’s health, development, and education. The question about prenatal stress is important because stress is highly prevalent and unequally distributed along racial and socioeconomic lines. Furthermore, while we suspect that stress is a mechanism explaining why poverty and disadvantage is bad for children, it is very difficult to isolate the effect of stress from its unfortunately common correlates.

This study combines natural experiments, primary data collection, and advanced statistical techniques to understand the effect of stress experienced in-utero on children’s outcomes. To provide a comprehensive assessment, we examine environmental stress from different sources – including natural disasters, armed conflict, and environmental violence – in different national context.