Birth outcomes following unexpected job loss: A matched-sibling design

Samantha Gailey*, Elias Stapput Knudsen, Laust H. Mortensen, Tim A. Bruckner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Background: Research documents social and economic antecedents of adverse birth outcomes, which may include involuntary job loss. Previous work on job loss and adverse birth outcomes, however, lacks high-quality individual data on, and variation in, plausibly exogenous job loss during pregnancy and therefore cannot rule out strong confounding.

We analysed unique linked registries in Denmark, from 1980 to 2017, to examine whether a father’s involuntary job loss during his spouse’s pregnancy increases the risk of a low-weight (i.e. <2500 grams) and/or preterm (i.e. <37 weeks of gestational age) birth. We applied a matched-sibling design to 743.574 sibling pairs.

Results: Results indicate an increased risk of a low-weight birth among infants exposed in utero to fathers’ unexpected job loss [odds ratio (OR) = 1.37, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.07, 1.75]. Sex-specific analyses show that this result holds for males (OR = 1.70, 95% CI: 1.14, 2.53) but not females (OR = 1.24, 95% CI: 0.80, 1.91). We find no relation with preterm birth.

Findings support the inference that a father’s unexpected job loss adversely affects the course of pregnancy, especially among males exposed in utero.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)858–869
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Infant health
  • Job loss
  • Low birthweight
  • Preterm birth
  • Siblings
  • Unemployment


Dive into the research topics of 'Birth outcomes following unexpected job loss: A matched-sibling design'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this