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Abstract: Militaries around the world perform training exercises in preparation for war. We study the relationship between in utero exposure to military exercises (bombing) and early-life health outcomes, combining data on naval bombing exercises in Vieques, Puerto Rico, and the universe of births from 1990-2003. Using a differences-in-differences design, we find that the sudden end of bombing practices is associated with a 56-79 percent decrease in the incidence of congenital anomalies and an overall improvement in a neonatal health outcomes index of 0.07σ. The evidence is generally consistent with the channel of environmental pollution; increases in arsenic levels in waters surrounding the live impact area.
Keywords: Infant health; military activity; environmental pollution; maternal stress
JEL Classification: I15, I14, O1