IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The “Tuberculous Cattle Trust”: Disease Contagion in an Era of Regulatory Uncertainty


  • Alan L. Olmstead
  • Paul W. Rhode


By 1900 scientific breakthroughs revealed that bovine tuberculosis was a serious and growing threat to animal and human health. Early private and state initiatives in the U.S. to address the problem were often counterproductive because they increased the incentives for the interstate trade of diseased stock. Our investigation shows that just one unscrupulous dealer exposed thousands of dairy herds and families to the disease. The story bears on the broader economics literature because it helps explain the expanding federal role in regulating food safety. In this case regulations arose from genuine health concerns. Moreover, before the development strict regulatory policies, diagnostic innovations that could have helped prevent the spread of the disease actually made the operation of markets worse by increasing asymmetric information problems.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan L. Olmstead & Paul W. Rhode, 2004. "The “Tuberculous Cattle Trust”: Disease Contagion in an Era of Regulatory Uncertainty," ICER Working Papers 16-2004, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:icr:wpicer:16-2004

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Anderson, D. Mark & Charles, Kerwin Kofi & Rees, Daniel I., 2018. "Public Health Efforts and the Decline in Urban Mortality," IZA Discussion Papers 11773, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Marc Law & Gary D. Libecap, 2006. "The Determinants of Progressive Era Reform. The Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906," NBER Chapters, in: Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America's Economic History, pages 319-342, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Alexander E. Saak & David A. Hennessy, 2018. "A model of reporting and controlling outbreaks by public health agencies," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 66(1), pages 21-64, July.
    4. D. Mark Anderson & Kerwin Kofi Charles & Daniel I. Rees, 2018. "Public Health Efforts and the Decline in Urban Mortality," NBER Working Papers 25027, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Anderson, D. Mark & Brown, Ryan & Charles, Kerwin Kofi & Rees, Daniel I., 2016. "The Effect of Occupational Licensing on Consumer Welfare: Early Midwifery Laws and Maternal Mortality," IZA Discussion Papers 10074, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:icr:wpicer:16-2004. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Simone Pellegrino). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.