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Births, Deaths, and New Deal Relief during the Great Depression

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  • Price V. Fishback
  • Michael R. Haines
  • Shawn Kantor

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of New Deal relief programs on infant mortality, noninfant mortality and general fertility rates in major U.S. cities between 1929 and 1940. We estimate the effects using a variety of specifications and techniques for a panel of 114 cities for which data on relief spending during the 1930s were available. The significant rise in relief spending during the New Deal contributed to reductions in infant mortality, suicide rates, and some other causes of death, while contributing to increases in the general fertility rate. Estimates of the relationship between economic activity and death rates suggest that many types of death rates were pro-cyclical, similar to Ruhm's (2000) findings for the modern U.S.. Estimates of the relief costs associated with saving a life (adjusted for inflation) are similar to estimates found in studies of modern social insurance programs.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11246.

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Date of creation: Apr 2005
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Publication status: published as Fishback, Price V., Michael R. Haines, and Shawn Kantor. "Births, Deaths, and New Deal Relief during the Great Depression." The Review of Economics and Statistics 89,1 (February 2007): 1-14.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11246

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  1. Rebecca Blank, 1995. "Teen pregnancy: government programs are not the cause," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(2), pages 47-58.
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Cited by:
  1. Price Fishback, 2010. "US monetary and fiscal policy in the 1930s," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(3), pages 385-413, Autumn.
  2. Joseph P. Ferrie & Karen Rolf, 2011. "Socioeconomic Status in Childhood and Health After Age 70: A New Longitudinal Analysis for the U.S., 1895-2005," NBER Working Papers 17016, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Leah Platt Boustan & Price V. Fishback & Shawn Kantor, 2010. "The Effect of Internal Migration on Local Labor Markets:American Cities during the Great Depression," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(4), pages 719-746, October.
  4. Barreca, Alan I. & Fishback, Price V. & Kantor, Shawn, 2012. "Agricultural policy, migration, and malaria in the United States in the 1930s," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 381-398.
  5. Andreea Balan-Cohen, 2008. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise? The Impact of the Old Age Assistance Program on Elderly Mortality in the United States," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0719, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  6. Stoian, Adrian & Fishback, Price, 2010. "Welfare spending and mortality rates for the elderly before the Social Security era," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 1-27, January.
  7. Ryan S. Johnson & Shawn Kantor & Price V. Fishback, 2007. "Striking at the Roots of Crime: The Impact of Social Welfare Spending on Crime During the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 12825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Elizabeth Ananat & Anna Gassman-Pines & Christina M. Gibson-Davis, 2013. "Community-Wide Job Loss and Teenage Fertility," NBER Working Papers 19003, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Kantor, Shawn & Fishback, Price V. & Wallis, John Joseph, 2013. "Did the New Deal solidify the 1932 Democratic realignment?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 620-633.
  10. Price V. Fishback, 2012. "Relief During the Great Depression in Australia and America," CEH Discussion Papers 005, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  11. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2013. "Recessions, Healthy No More?," NBER Working Papers 19287, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Alan Barreca & Price V. Fishback & Shawn Kantor, 2011. "Agricultural Policy, Migration, and Malaria in the 1930s United States," NBER Working Papers 17526, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Price V. Fishback & John Joseph Wallis, 2012. "What Was New About the New Deal?," NBER Working Papers 18271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Marianne Bitler & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2006. "Welfare Reform and Indirect Impacts on Health," NBER Working Papers 12642, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Jonathan F. Fox & Mikko Myrskylä, 2011. "Urban fertility responses to local government programs: evidence from the 1923-1932 U.S," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2011-018, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  16. Leonard, Jonathan & Mas, Alexandre, 2008. "Welfare reform, time limits, and infant health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 1551-1566, December.
  17. Price V. Fishback & Werner Troesken & Trevor Kollmann & Michael Haines & Paul W. Rhode & Melissa Thomasson, 2011. "Information and the Impact of Climate and Weather on Mortality Rates During the Great Depression," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Climate Change: Adaptations Past and Present, pages 131-167 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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