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Saving Babies: The Impact of Public Education Programs on Infant Mortality

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  • Carolyn Moehling

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  • Melissa Thomasson

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Abstract

We take advantage of unique data on specific activities conducted under the Sheppard-Towner Act from 1924 through 1929 to focus on how public health interventions affected infant mortality. Interventions that provided one-on-one contact and opportunities for follow-up care, such as home visits by nurses and the establishment of health clinics, reduced infant deaths more than did classes and conferences. These interventions were particularly effective for nonwhites, a population with limited access to physicians and medical care. Although limited data on costs prevent us from making systematic cost-benefit calculations, we estimate that one infant death could be avoided for every $1,600 (about $20,400 in 2010 dollars) spent on home nurse visits. Copyright Population Association of America 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Carolyn Moehling & Melissa Thomasson, 2014. "Saving Babies: The Impact of Public Education Programs on Infant Mortality," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(2), pages 367-386, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:demogr:v:51:y:2014:i:2:p:367-386
    DOI: 10.1007/s13524-013-0274-5
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Moehling, Carolyn M. & Thomasson, Melissa A., 2012. "The Political Economy of Saving Mothers and Babies: The Politics of State Participation in the Sheppard-Towner Program," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(01), pages 75-103, March.
    2. David Cutler & Grant Miller, 2005. "The role of public health improvements in health advances: The twentieth-century United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 42(1), pages 1-22, February.
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    5. Gupta, Sanjeev & Verhoeven, Marijn & Tiongson, Erwin R., 2002. "The effectiveness of government spending on education and health care in developing and transition economies," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 717-737, November.
    6. Filmer, Deon & Pritchett, Lant, 1997. "Child mortality and public spending on health : how much does money matter?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1864, The World Bank.
    7. John R. Lott & Jr. & Lawrence W. Kenny, 1999. "Did Women's Suffrage Change the Size and Scope of Government?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1163-1198, December.
    8. Werner Troesken, 2004. "Water, Race, and Disease," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262201488, May.
    9. John Anyanwu & Andrew E. O. Erhijakpor, 2009. "Health Expenditures and Health Outcomes in Africa," African Development Review, African Development Bank, vol. 21(2), pages 400-433.
    10. Grant Miller, 2008. "Women's Suffrage, Political Responsiveness, and Child Survival in American History," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(3), pages 1287-1327.
    11. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-255, March-Apr.
    12. Sudhir Anand & Martin Ravallion, 1993. "Human Development in Poor Countries: On the Role of Private Incomes and Public Services," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 133-150, Winter.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Bhalotra, Sonia & Karlsson, Martin & Nilsson, Therese, 2014. "Life Expectancy and Mother-Baby Interventions. Evidence from A Historical Trial," Ruhr Economic Papers 504, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    2. Butikofer, Aline & Løken, Katrine & Salvanes, Kjell G, 2016. "Infant Health Care and Long-Term Outcomes," CEPR Discussion Papers 11652, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Bütikofer, Aline & Loken, Katrine Vellesen & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2015. "Long-Term Consequences of Access to Well-Child Visits," IZA Discussion Papers 9546, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Sonia Bhalotra & Martin Karlsson & Therese Nilsson, 2014. "Life Expectancy and Mother-Baby Interventions," CINCH Working Paper Series 1404, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health.
    5. Bhalotra, Sonia & Karlsson, Martin & Nilsson, Therese, 2015. "Infant health and longevity: evidence from a historical trial in Sweden," ISER Working Paper Series 2015-08, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    6. repec:zbw:rwirep:0504 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Sonia Bhalotra & Martin Karlsson & Therese Nilsson, 2014. "Life Expectancy and Mother-Baby Interventions. Evidence from A Historical Trial," Ruhr Economic Papers 0504, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    8. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:29:y:2018:i:c:p:198-210 is not listed on IDEAS

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