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Saving Babies: The Contribution of Sheppard-Towner to the Decline in Infant Mortality in the 1920s

  • Carolyn M. Moehling
  • Melissa A. Thomasson

From 1922 to 1929, the Sheppard-Towner Act provided matching grants to states to fund maternal and infant care education initiatives. We examine the effects of this public health program on infant mortality. States engaged in different types of activities, allowing us to examine whether different interventions had differential effects on mortality. Interventions that provided one-on-one contact and opportunities for follow-up care, such as home visits by public health nurses, reduced infant deaths more than classes and conferences. Overall, we estimate that Sheppard-Towner activities can account for 9 to 21 percent of the decline in infant mortality over the period.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17996.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17996.

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Date of creation: Apr 2012
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Publication status: published as “Saving Babies: The Impact of Public Health Education Programs on Infant Mortality.” (with Carolyn Moehling). Demography, 51(2), April 2014, 367-386.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17996
Note: DAE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page: http://www.nber.org
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  1. Michael R. Haines, 2001. "The Urban Mortality Transition in the United States, 1800-1940," NBER Historical Working Papers 0134, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Sudhir Anand & Martin Ravallion, 1993. "Human Development in Poor Countries: On the Role of Private Incomes and Public Services," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 133-150, Winter.
  3. Kim, Kwangkee & Moody, Philip M., 1992. "More resources better health? A cross-national perspective," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 34(8), pages 837-842, April.
  4. John Anyanwu & Andrew E. O. Erhijakpor, 2009. "Health Expenditures and Health Outcomes in Africa," African Development Review, African Development Bank, vol. 21(2), pages 400-433.
  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. Thomasson, Melissa A. & Treber, Jaret, 2008. "From home to hospital: The evolution of childbirth in the United States, 1928-1940," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 76-99, January.
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