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The Effect of Occupational Licensing on Consumer Welfare: Early Midwifery Laws and Maternal Mortality

Author

Listed:
  • D. Mark Anderson
  • Ryan Brown
  • Kerwin Kofi Charles
  • Daniel I. Rees

Abstract

Occupational licensing is intended to protect consumers. Whether it does so is an important, but unanswered, question. Exploiting variation across states and municipalities in the timing and details of midwifery laws introduced during the period 1900-1940, and using a rich data set that we assembled from primary sources, we find that requiring midwives to be licensed reduced maternal mortality by 6 to 7 percent. In addition, we find that requiring midwives to be licensed may have had led to modest reductions in nonwhite infant mortality and mortality among children under the age of 2 from diarrhea. These estimates provide the first econometric evidence of which we are aware on the relationship between licensure and consumer safety, and are directly relevant to ongoing policy debates both in the United States and in the developing world surrounding the merits of licensing midwives.

Suggested Citation

  • D. Mark Anderson & Ryan Brown & Kerwin Kofi Charles & Daniel I. Rees, 2016. "The Effect of Occupational Licensing on Consumer Welfare: Early Midwifery Laws and Maternal Mortality," NBER Working Papers 22456, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22456
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Blair & Bobby Chung, 2017. "Job Market Signaling through Occupational Licensing," Working Papers 2017-50, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    2. repec:eee:deveco:v:133:y:2018:i:c:p:415-433 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Markowitz, Sara & Adams, E. Kathleen & Lewitt, Mary Jane & Dunlop, Anne L., 2017. "Competitive effects of scope of practice restrictions: Public health or public harm?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 201-218.
    4. repec:iza:izawol:journl:y:2017:n:392 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Andreas Kotsadam & Jo Thori Lind & Jørgen Modalsli, 2017. "Call the Midwife - Health Personnel and Mortality in Norway 1887-1921," CESifo Working Paper Series 6831, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. repec:eee:socmed:v:184:y:2017:i:c:p:99-107 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J08 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics Policies

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