For the Next Generation

Kevin Lewis

March 10, 2024

The labor market impacts of America's first paid maternity leave policy
Brenden Timpe
Journal of Public Economics, March 2024


This paper provides new evidence on the effect of a national expansion of paid maternity leave on the labor-market outcomes of women in the United States. I develop an identification strategy that exploits the staggered expansion of paid leave through short-term disability insurance in the 1960s and 1970s. The policy expanded leave-taking among new mothers but also precipitated a decrease in hourly wages, employment, and family income among women of child-bearing age. The results suggest that even modestly generous, widespread expansions of paid family leave policies have the potential to widen gender gaps in the labor market.


Two Sides of the Same Pill? Fertility Control and Mental Health Effects of the Contraceptive Pill
Franziska Valder
Journal of Labor Economics, forthcoming


I investigate the link between access to the contraceptive pill, mental health, education, and labor market outcomes. Liberalizing education and labor market effects of access to the pill via its fertility control function are well established. More recently, a medical literature however suggests a link between hormonal contraception and depression. Exploiting variation in access to the pill, I document substantial mental health effects of the pill. These mental health effects are driven by individuals with a genetic predisposition for depression who then do not experience the positive effects on education and labor market outcomes.


Grandchildren's Longevity and Their Grandfathers' POW Trauma in the U.S. Civil War
Dora Costa
Demography, forthcoming


I document the transmission of a grandfather's net nutritional deprivation and psychosocial stress in young adulthood across multiple generations using the grandfather's ex-prisoner of war (ex-POW) status in the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865). Using a newly created dataset, I uncover an association between a grandfather's ex-POW status and the longevity after age 45 of his sons and male-line grandsons but not of his daughters, granddaughters, female-line grandsons, children-in-law, or grandchildren-in-law. Male-line grandsons lost roughly a year of life at age 45 (4% of remaining life expectancy) if descended from ex-POWs who suffered severe captivity conditions than if descended from non-POWs. If their grandfathers faced a less harsh captivity, male-line grandsons lost less than a year of life compared with those descended from non-POWs. I find that the grandfather's age at exposure and the grandson's education, as well as the son's and the grandson's poor late gestational conditions (proxied by season of birth), mediate this relationship. I rule out socioeconomic status, marriage and mortality selection, and cultural or psychological transmission from grandfathers to grandsons as explanations. I cannot rule out an epigenetic explanation.


Severe Prenatal Shocks and Adolescent Health: Evidence from the Dutch Hunger Winter
Gabriella Conti et al.
Economics & Human Biology, forthcoming


This paper investigates health impacts at the end of adolescence of prenatal exposure to multiple shocks, by exploiting the unique natural experiment of the Dutch Hunger Winter. At the end of World War II, a famine occurred abruptly in the Western Netherlands (November 1944 - May 1945), pushing the previously and subsequently well-nourished Dutch population to the brink of starvation. We link high-quality military recruits data with objective health measurements for the cohorts born in the years surrounding WWII with newly digitised historical records on calories and nutrient composition of the war rations, daily temperature, and warfare deaths. Using difference-in-differences and triple differences research designs, we first show that the cohorts exposed to the Dutch Hunger Winter since early gestation have a higher Body Mass Index and an increased probability of being obese at age 18. We then find that this effect is partly moderated by warfare exposure and a reduction in energy-adjusted protein intake. Lastly, we account for selective mortality using a copula-based approach and newly-digitised data on survival rates, and find evidence of both selection and scarring effects. These results emphasise the complexity of the mechanisms at play in studying the consequences of early conditions.


Trajectories of Goth Music Preferences in Adolescence and Psychological Adjustment in Adulthood
Catherine McConnell et al.
Journal of Youth and Adolescence, April 2024, Pages 927-939


Non-mainstream rock music preferences, like goth, are linked to psychological difficulties in adolescence and emerging adulthood. This study explored the persistence of these difficulties into adulthood, while considering gender moderation. From ages 15 to 22, 364 participants (59% female) annually indicated their preference for goth music. Their mental health and well-being were evaluated at age 30 and at ages 13-14 as a control. A latent class growth analysis on their goth preference revealed two trajectories: lower (non-fans; 77%) and higher (fans; 23%). Gender moderation analysis showed that only males on the higher trajectory reported lower well-being and poorer mental health at age 30. Male goth music fans, most likely attracted to this cultural expression of their difficulties, may face increased psychological challenges as adults due to societal gender norms and growing marginalization. This study indeed suggests that an extended affinity for goth music during adolescence and emerging adulthood indicates long-term psychological adjustment challenges among adult male fans.


from the


A weekly newsletter with free essays from past issues of National Affairs and The Public Interest that shed light on the week's pressing issues.


to your National Affairs subscriber account.

Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

Subscribe to National Affairs.