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J Health Econ. 2011 Dec;30(6):1246-60. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2011.07.014. Epub 2011 Aug 26.

Long-term health effects on the next generation of Ramadan fasting during pregnancy.

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University of Mainz, VU University Amsterdam, Tinbergen Institute, Netspar.


Each year, many pregnant Muslim women fast during Ramadan. Using Indonesian cross-sectional data and building upon work of Almond and Mazumder (2011), I show that people who were prenatally exposed to Ramadan fasting have a poorer general health than others. As predicted by medical theory, this effect is especially pronounced among older people, who also more often report symptoms indicative of coronary heart problems and type 2 diabetes. Among exposed Muslims the share of males is lower, which is most likely caused by death before birth. I show that these effects are unlikely the result of common health shocks correlated to the occurrence of Ramadan, or of fasting mainly occurring among women who would have had unhealthier children anyway.

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