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the things we study in social science

29 July 2011
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It is known that cultural representations, in the form of stereotypes, can influence functional health. We predicted that the influence of cultural representations, in the form of salient holidays, would extend to birth timing. We drew on birth-certificate info for all births which took place within one week of Valentine’s Day and Halloween in the USA between 1999 and 2006. On Valentine’s Day, which conveys positive symbolism, there was a 3.6% increase in spontaneous births and a 12.1% increase in cesarean births. Whereas, on Halloween, which conveys negative symbolism, there was a 5.3% decrease in spontaneous births and a 16.9% decrease in cesarean births.

That is from a forthcoming article in Social Science & Medicine, written by faculty at Yale.

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