Modern Medicine and the 20th Century Decline in Mortality: Evidence on the Impact of Sulfa Drugs
AbstractThis paper studies the contribution of sulfa drugs, a groundbreaking medical innovation in the 1930s, to declines in U.S. mortality. For several often-fatal infectious diseases, sulfa drugs represented the first effective treatment. Using time-series and difference-in-differences methods (with diseases unaffected by sulfa drugs as a comparison group), we find that sulfa drugs led to a 25 to 40 percent decline in maternal mortality, 17 to 36 percent decline in pneumonia mortality, and 52 to 67 percent decline in scarlet-fever mortality between 1937 and 1943. Altogether, they reduced mortality by 2 to 4 percent and increased life expectancy by 0.4 to 0.8 years. We also find that sulfa drugs benefited whites more than blacks.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15089.
Date of creation: Jun 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as “Modern Medicine and the 20th-Century Decline in Mortality: Evidence on the Impact of Sulfa Drugs,” (with A. Lleras-Muney and K. Smith), American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2(2), April 2010, pp. 118-146
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- J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
- N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2009-07-03 (All new papers)
- NEP-HEA-2009-07-03 (Health Economics)
- NEP-HIS-2009-07-03 (Business, Economic & Financial History)
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