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The Engine and the Reaper: Industrialization and Mortality in Early Modern Japan

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  • John Tang

Abstract

Economic development leads to improved health over time due to increased access to medical treatment, sanitation, and income, but in the short run the relationship may be negative given disease exposure from market integration. Using a panel dataset of vital statistics for Meiji Japan, I find mortality rates increased during the country's early industrialization, with railroad access accounting for over five percent of average mortality between 1886 and 1893. Estimates from a triple-differences framework indicate that communicable disease mortality accounts for 91 percent of the additional incidence, which suggests that improved transport may have operated as a vector for transmission.

Suggested Citation

  • John Tang, 2016. "The Engine and the Reaper: Industrialization and Mortality in Early Modern Japan," CEH Discussion Papers 044, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:auu:hpaper:044
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    contagion; market integration; mortality Kuznets curve; public health; railroad transport;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • N75 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Asia including Middle East
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology

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