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Typhoid Fever, Water Quality, and Human Capital Formation

Author

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  • Brian Beach
  • Joseph Ferrie
  • Martin Saavedra
  • Werner Troesken

Abstract

Investment in water purification technologies led to large mortality declines by helping eradicate typhoid fever and other waterborne diseases. This paper seeks to understand how these technologies affected human capital formation. We use typhoid fatality rates during early life as a proxy for water quality. To carry out the analysis, city-level data are merged with a unique dataset linking individuals between the 1900 and 1940 censuses. Parametric and semi-parametric estimates suggest that eradicating early-life exposure to typhoid fever would have increased earnings in later life by 1% and increased educational attainment by one month. Instrumenting for typhoid fever using the typhoid rates from cities that lie upstream produces similar results. A simple cost-benefit analysis indicates that the increase in earnings from eradicating typhoid fever was more than sufficient to offset the costs of eradication.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian Beach & Joseph Ferrie & Martin Saavedra & Werner Troesken, 2014. "Typhoid Fever, Water Quality, and Human Capital Formation," NBER Working Papers 20279, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20279
    Note: CH DAE HE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Janet Currie & Joshua Graff Zivin & Katherine Meckel & Matthew Neidell & Wolfram Schlenker, 2013. "Something in the water: contaminated drinking water and infant health," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 46(3), pages 791-810, August.
    2. Almond, Douglas & Currie, Janet, 2011. "Human Capital Development before Age Five," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    3. Lionel Kesztenbaum & Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, 2014. "Income versus Sanitation; Mortality Decline in Paris, 1880-1914," PSE Working Papers halshs-01018594, HAL.
    4. Almond, Douglas & Currie, Janet & Herrmann, Mariesa, 2012. "From infant to mother: Early disease environment and future maternal health," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 475-483.
    5. Carlos Bozzoli & Angus Deaton & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2009. "Adult height and childhood disease," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 46(4), pages 647-669, November.
    6. David Cutler & Grant Miller, 2005. "The role of public health improvements in health advances: The twentieth-century United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 42(1), pages 1-22, February.
    7. Ferrie, Joseph P. & Troesken, Werner, 2008. "Water and Chicago's mortality transition, 1850-1925," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 1-16, January.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Lazuka, Volha, 2017. "Infant health and later-life labour market outcomes : Evidence from the introduction of sulfa antibiotics in Sweden," Lund Papers in Economic History 154, Lund University, Department of Economic History.
    2. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie & Valentina Duque, 2017. "Childhood Circumstances and Adult Outcomes: Act II," NBER Working Papers 23017, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. repec:bla:econom:v:84:y:2017:i:335:p:393-416 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Anderson, D. Mark & Charles, Kerwin Kofi & Las Heras Olivares, Claudio & Rees, Daniel I., 2017. "Was the First Public Health Campaign Successful? The Tuberculosis Movement and its Effect on Mortality," IZA Discussion Papers 10590, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. D. Mark Anderson & Kerwin Kofi Charles & Claudio Las Heras Olivares & Daniel I. Rees, 2017. "Was The First Public Health Campaign Successful? The Tuberculosis Movement and Its Effect on Mortality," NBER Working Papers 23219, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Howard Bodenhorn, 2017. "Finance and Growth: Household Savings, Public Investment, and Public Health in Late Nineteenth-Century New Jersey," NBER Working Papers 23430, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Driva, Anastasia & Bauernschuster, Stefan & Hornung, Erik, 2016. "Bismarck’s Health Insurance and the Mortality Decline," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145577, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    8. Juliana Jaramillo-Echeverri & Adolfo Meisel-Roca & María Teresa Ramírez-Giraldo, 2017. "More than One Hundred Years of Improvements in Living Standards: the Case of Colombia," Borradores de Economia 1027, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    9. Schneider, Eric B. & Ogasawara, Kota, 2017. "Disease and child growth in industrialising Japan: assessing instantaneous changes in growth and changes in the growth pattern, 1911-39," Economic History Working Papers 84066, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    10. Andrew Goodman-Bacon, 2016. "The Long-Run Effects of Childhood Insurance Coverage: Medicaid Implementation, Adult Health, and Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 22899, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I0 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General
    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General
    • N0 - Economic History - - General

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