Institutional Affiliation: Oberlin College
|The 1918 Influenza Pandemic and its Lessons for COVID-19|
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This article reviews the global health and economic consequences of the 1918 influenza pandemic, with a particular focus on topics that have seen a renewed interest because of COVID-19. We begin by providing an overview of key contextual and epidemiological details as well as the data that are available to researchers. We then examine the effects on mortality, fertility, and the economy in the short and medium run. The role of nonpharmaceutical interventions in shaping those outcomes is discussed throughout. We then examine longer-lasting health consequences and their impact on human capital accumulation and socioeconomic status. Throughout the paper we highlight important areas for future work.
|Fetal Shock or Selection? The 1918 Influenza Pandemic and Human Capital Development|
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Almond (2006) argues that in utero exposure to the 1918 influenza pandemic lowered socioeconomic status in adulthood, whereas Brown & Thomas (2018) find that the effect disappears after controlling for parental characteristics of the 1919 birth cohort. We link microdata from the 1920 and 1930 censuses to WWII enlistment records and city-level in uenza data. This allows us to adopt an empirical approach that overcomes the selection concerns raised by Brown & Thomas (2018). Results indicate that in the absence of the pandemic, the 1919 birth cohort would have been more likely to graduate from high school, an effect that is largely unaffected by including parental controls and city-specific time trends. Adding household fixed effects (and thus exploiting variation among brothers) yields simil...
|Typhoid Fever, Water Quality, and Human Capital Formation|
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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 t...
Published: Beach, Brian & Ferrie, Joseph & Saavedra, Martin & Troesken, Werner, 2016. "Typhoid Fever, Water Quality, and Human Capital Formation," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 76(01), pages 41-75, March. citation courtesy of