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The In-Hospital Mortality Rates of Slaves and Freemen: Evidence from Touro Infirmary, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1855–1860

  • Pritchett, Jonathan B.


    (Tulane University)

  • Yun, Myeong-Su


    (Tulane University)

Using a rich sample of admission records from New Orleans Touro Infirmary, we examine the in-hospital mortality risk of free and enslaved patients. Despite a higher mortality rate in the general population, slaves were significantly less likely to die in the hospital than the whites. We analyze the determinants of in-hospital mortality at Touro using Oaxaca-type decomposition to aggregate our regression results. After controlling for differences in characteristics and maladies, we find that much of the mortality gap remains unexplained. In conclusion, we propose an alternative explanation for the mortality gap based on the selective hospital admission of slaves.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3652.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Explorations in Economic History, 2009, 46 (2), 241-252
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3652
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  1. Yun, Myeong-Su, 2003. "A Simple Solution to the Identification Problem in Detailed Wage Decompositions," IZA Discussion Papers 836, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Ronald L. Oaxaca & Michael R. Ransom, 1999. "Identification in Detailed Wage Decompositions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(1), pages 154-157, February.
  3. John Ham & Jan Svejnar & Katherine Terrell, 1998. "Unemployment and the Social Safety Net During Transitions to a Market Economy: Evidence from the Czech and Slovak Republic," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 169, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  4. Abowd, John M & Killingsworth, Mark R, 1984. "Do Minority-White Unemployment Differences Really Exist?," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 2(1), pages 64-72, January.
  5. Tunali, Insan & Pritchett, Jonathan B, 1997. "Cox Regression with Alternative Concepts of Waiting Time: The New Orleans Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1853," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(1), pages 1-25, Jan.-Feb..
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