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

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  • John Parman

Abstract

There is a growing body of evidence showing that negative childhood health shocks have long term consequences in terms of health, human capital formation and labor market outcomes. However, by altering the relative prices of child quality across siblings, these health shocks can also affect investments in and the outcomes of healthy siblings. This paper uses the 1918 influenza pandemic to test how household resources are reallocated when there is a health shock to one child. Using a new dataset linking census data on childhood households to health and education data from military enlistment records, I show that families with a child in utero during the pandemic shifted resources to older siblings of that child, leading to significantly higher educational attainments and high school graduation rates for these older siblings. There are no significant effects for younger siblings born after the pandemic. These results suggest that the reallocation of household resources in response to a negative childhood health shock tended to reinforce rather than compensate for differences in endowments across children.

Suggested Citation

  • John Parman, 2013. "Childhood Health and Sibling Outcomes: The Shared Burden and Benefit of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic," NBER Working Papers 19505, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19505
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Breining, Sanni & Daysal, N. Meltem & Simonsen, Marianne & Trandafir, Mircea, 2015. "Spillover Effects of Early-Life Medical Interventions," IZA Discussion Papers 9086, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Keith Meyers & Melissa A. Thomasson, 2017. "Paralyzed by Panic: Measuring the Effect of School Closures during the 1916 Polio Pandemic on Educational Attainment," NBER Working Papers 23890, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Bladimir Carrillo Bermudez & João Eustáquio De Lima & Juan C. Trujillo, 2016. "Weather Fluctuations, Early-Life Conditions, And Parental Investments: Evidence From Colombia," Anais do XLIII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 43rd Brazilian Economics Meeting] 140, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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