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Universal Investment in Infants and Long-Run Health: Evidence from Denmark's 1937 Home Visiting Program


  • Jonas Hjort
  • Mikkel Sølvsten
  • Miriam Wüst


This paper examines the long-run health effects of a universal infant health intervention, the 1937 Danish home visiting program, which targeted all infants. Using administrative population data and exploiting variation in the timing of implementation across municipalities, we find that treated individuals enjoy higher age-specific survival rates during middle age (45-64), experience fewer hospital nights, and are less likely to be diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. These results suggest that an improved nutrition and disease environment in infancy "programmed" individuals for lower predisposition to serious adult diseases.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonas Hjort & Mikkel Sølvsten & Miriam Wüst, 2017. "Universal Investment in Infants and Long-Run Health: Evidence from Denmark's 1937 Home Visiting Program," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 78-104, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:9:y:2017:i:4:p:78-104
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.20150087

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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Sam Watson’s journal round-up for 13th November 2017
      by Sam Watson in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2017-11-13 18:33:33


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    Cited by:

    1. Schiman, Jeffrey C. & Kaestner, Robert & Lo Sasso, Anthony T., 2019. "Infant mortality and adult wellbeing: Evidence from wartime Britain," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 12-29.
    2. Mitrut, Andreea & Tudor, Simona, 2018. "Bridging the gap for Roma: The effects of an ethnically targeted program on prenatal care and child health," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 165(C), pages 114-132.
    3. Gabriella Conti & Giacomo Mason & Stavros Poupakis, 2019. "Developmental Origins of Health Inequality," Working Papers 2019-041, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    4. Nshakira-Rukundo, Emmanuel & Mussa, Essa Chanie & Gerber, Nicolas & von Braun, Joachim, 2020. "Impact of voluntary community-based health insurance on child stunting: Evidence from rural Uganda," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 245(C).
    5. Volha Lazuka, 2019. "Early-Life Assets in Oldest-Old Age: Evidence From Primary Care Reform in Early Twentieth Century Sweden," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 56(2), pages 679-706, April.
    6. Lazuka, Volha, 2019. "It’s a long walk: Lasting effects of maternity ward openings on labour market performance," Lund Papers in Economic History 187, Lund University, Department of Economic History.
    7. Banerjee, Rakesh & Maharaj, Riddhi, 2020. "Heat, infant mortality, and adaptation: Evidence from India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 143(C).
    8. Jonas Lau-Jensen Hirani & Hans Henrik Sievertsen & Miriam Wust, 2020. "The Timing of Early Interventions and Child and Maternal Health," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 20/720, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-


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