Heterogeneous effects of medical interventions on the health of low-risk newborns

Research output: Working paperResearch


We investigate heterogeneity in the impact of early-life medical interventions on low-risk newborns' health. A policy rule in The Netherlands creates large discontinuities in medical treatments at gestational week 37. Using a regression discontinuity design, we find no health benefits from additional treatments for average newborns. However, there is substantial heterogeneity in returns to treatments, with significant health benefits for newborns in the lowest income quartile and no benefits in higher income quartiles. We provide suggestive evidence that potential difficulties in risk screening among low-income women cause this heterogeneity. "Back-of-the-envelope" calculations suggest that providing additional treatments to all low-risk births as per the current policy rule is barely efficient, but a targeted policy focusing on low-income areas would be highly cost-effective.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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