The SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for the COVID-19 disease has taken a large toll on population health including mortality, morbidity, and long-term disability. Over time, the impact of the virus has evolved as new variants have emerged and vaccines and therapeutic alternatives have become available. Torche examines the changing impact of COVID infection on infant health, through which the pandemic could have lasting intergenerational effects, considering changes from the onset of the pandemic to December 2022. Using population data with information on maternal infection and a siblings fixed effects approach, she finds a large impact of maternal COVID infection on the probability of preterm and very preterm birth. This harmful impact was largest in the early months of the pandemic, declined in 2021, and disappeared in 2022. The evidence also suggests a substantial protective effect of vaccination. These findings highlight the need to monitor the changing consequences of COVID infection over time and the importance of vaccination to reduce the burden of infection on vulnerable populations.

Professor Torche’s research and writing focus on social inequality and social mobility, educational disparities, and marriage and family dynamics. Her recent scholarship has extensively studied the influence of early-life exposures and circumstances – starting before birth – on individual health, development, and wellbeing using natural experiments and causal inference approaches. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2020, and to the Sociological Research Association in 2013.

connect with us


© UC Irvine School of Social Sciences - 3151 Social Sciences Plaza, Irvine, CA 92697-5100 - 949.824.2766