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Bismarck's Health Insurance and the Mortality Decline

Listed author(s):
  • Bauernschuster, Stefan
  • Driva, Anastasia
  • Hornung, Erik

We investigate the impact on mortality of the world's first compulsory health insurance, established by Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of the German Empire, in 1884. Employing a multi-layered empirical setup, we draw on international comparisons and difference-in-differences strategies using Prussian administrative panel data to exploit differences in eligibility for insurance across occupations. All approaches yield a consistent pattern suggesting that Bismarck's Health Insurance generated a significant mortality reduction. The results are largely driven by a decline of deaths from infectious diseases. We present prima facie evidence that diffusion of new hygiene knowledge through physicians was an important channel.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 12200.

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Date of creation: Aug 2017
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:12200
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