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Deprivation and Disease in Early Twentieth-Century America

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  • Karen Clay
  • Werner Troesken

Abstract

This paper explores how early life exposure to poverty and want adversely affects later life health outcomes. In particular, it examines how exposure to crowded housing conditions and impure drinking water undermines long-term health prospects and increases the risk of age-related pathologies such as cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke. Exploiting city-level data from early-twentieth century America, evidence is presented that cities with unusually high rates of typhoid fever in 1900 had elevated rates of heart and kidney disease fifteen years later; also cities with unusually high rates of tuberculosis in 1900 had elevated rates of cancer and stroke fifteen years later. The estimated coefficients suggest that eradicating typhoid fever (through water purification) and tuberculosis (through improved housing and nutrition) would have reduced later death rates from heart disease, cancer, stroke, and kidney disease by 23 to 35 percent.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12111.

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Date of creation: Mar 2006
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12111

Note: AG HE DAE
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  1. David M. Cutler & Grant Miller, 2004. "The Role of Public Health Improvements in Health Advances: The 20th Century United States," NBER Working Papers 10511, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Michael R. Haines, 2001. "The Urban Mortality Transition in the United States, 1800-1940," NBER Historical Working Papers, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc 0134, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Robert Fogel & Dora Costa, 1997. "A theory of technophysio evolution, with some implications for forecasting population, health care costs, and pension costs," Demography, Springer, Springer, vol. 34(1), pages 49-66, February.
  4. Dora Costa, 2000. "Understanding the twentieth-century decline in chronic conditions among older men," Demography, Springer, Springer, vol. 37(1), pages 53-72, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Lindeboom, Maarten & Portrait, France & van den Berg, Gerard J., 2010. "Long-run effects on longevity of a nutritional shock early in life: The Dutch Potato famine of 1846-1847," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 617-629, September.

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