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Childhood Health and Sibling Outcomes: The Shared Burden of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

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  • John Parman

    () (Department of Economics, College of William and Mary)

Abstract

The impacts of a negative health shock during childhood can have long term consequences for a person in terms of health, human capital formation and labor market outcomes. However, the effects of the health shock are not necessarily limited to the afflicted individual. By raising the costs of the child both in terms of health care and human capital investment, the health shock impacts a family's resource allocation decisions. As a result, a significant negative health shock for one child can influence the outcomes of his or her healthy siblings. This paper uses the 1918 influenza pandemic to assess the ways in which a major negative health shock influences family planning and investment decisions. By linking educational and health data from military records to census information on childhood households, I show that the influenza pandemic impacted levels of investment in not only those children born during the pandemic but also their siblings. The results suggest that having a child born during the pandemic led families to shift educational investments to older children. Older siblings of a child born during the pandemic received an additional quarter year of education while younger siblings received slightly less education relative to individuals without a sibling born during the pandemic. These results suggest that the effects of childhood health shocks on siblings are an important consideration when evaluating the potential consequences of childhood health interventions.

Suggested Citation

  • John Parman, "undated". "Childhood Health and Sibling Outcomes: The Shared Burden of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic," Working Papers 121, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwm:wpaper:121
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    File URL: http://economics.wm.edu/wp/cwm_wp121.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Douglas Almond & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2013. "Fetal Origins and Parental Responses," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 5(1), pages 37-56, May.
    2. Cheti Nicoletti & Valentina Tonei, 2017. "The response of parental time investments to the child’s skills and health," Discussion Papers 17/08, Department of Economics, University of York.
    3. Richter, André & Robling, Per Olof, 2013. "Multigenerational e ffects of the 1918-19 influenza pandemic in Sweden," Working Paper Series 5/2013, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    4. Nicoletti, Cheti & Tonei, Valentina, 2017. "The Response of Parental Time Investments to the Child's Skills and Health," IZA Discussion Papers 10993, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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