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Public health, poor relief and improving urban child mortality outcomes in the decade prior to the New Deal

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  • Jonathan F. Fox

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

Abstract

This paper examines the effectiveness of the public health education and poverty relief programs prior to the New Deal. Prior researchers have speculated these programs contributed to the declining mortality rates during the 1920s, but have been unable to econometrically estimate their impact across a large set of cities. Data on municipal health education and social insurance expenditures is used to separately estimate how effective each of these programs were at reducing infant and child mortality. The effects are identified using the within variation for a panel of 68 cities over 10 years, with estimates suggesting that it was primarily spending on health education which led to lower infant and child mortality during the 1920s. Additionally, for both the infant and child age groups, the education programs required a two-year lag to generate an effect. Fixed effects estimates indicate that 1 dollar of per capita public health education spending in year t translated to about a 0.93 unit drop in the infant mortality rate in year t+2, and about a .02 unit drop in the crude death rate for children aged 1 to 4. In terms of actual municipal expenditures during this period, these estimates show that cities in the top quartile of public health education spending experienced an additional 2.4 unit average annual decline in their infant mortality rates than did cites in the bottom percentile. JEL codes I18, I38, and N32

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan F. Fox, 2011. "Public health, poor relief and improving urban child mortality outcomes in the decade prior to the New Deal," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2011-005, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2011-005
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    File URL: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/papers/working/wp-2011-005.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2004. "Changes in the Value of Life, 1940--1980," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 29(2), pages 159-180, September.
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    3. Hoyt Bleakley & Fabian Lange, 2009. "Chronic Disease Burden and the Interaction of Education, Fertility, and Growth," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 52-65, February.
    4. Price V. Fishback & Valentina Kachanovskaya, 2010. "In Search of the Multiplier for Federal Spending in the States During the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 16561, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. 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.
    6. Rebecca M. Blank, 2002. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1105-1166, December.
    7. Stoian, Adrian & Fishback, Price, 2010. "Welfare spending and mortality rates for the elderly before the Social Security era," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 1-27, January.
    8. Robert J. Waldmann, 1992. "Income Distribution and Infant Mortality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(4), pages 1283-1302.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alan Barreca & Price V. Fishback & Shawn Kantor, 2011. "Agricultural Policy, Migration, and Malaria in the 1930s United States," NBER Working Papers 17526, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    USA; child mortality; health education; infant mortality; public health; social welfare;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General

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