NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Joseph Burton

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Working Papers and Chapters

August 2011Was What Ail'd Ya' What Kill'd Ya'?
with Robert W. Fogel, Louis Cain, Brian Bettenhausen: w17322
Making use of those Union Army veterans for whom death certificates are available, we compare the conditions with which they were diagnosed by Civil War pension surgeons to the causes of death on the certificates. We divide the data between those veterans who entered the pension system early because of war injuries and those who entered the pension system after the 1890 reform that made it available to many more veterans. We examine the correlation between specific conditions and death causes to gauge support for the hypothesis that death is attributable to something specific. We also examine the correlation between the accumulation of rated conditions to time until death to gauge support for the “insult hypothesis.” In general, we find support for both hypotheses. Examining the hazard r...
January 2005Work and the Disability Transition in 20th Century America
with Sven Wilson, Benjamin Howell: w11036
Using data from Union Army pensioners and from the National Health Interview Surveys, we estimate that work-disability among white males aged 45-64 was 3.5 times as high in the late 19th century than at the end of the 20th century, including a decline and flattening of the age-profile since 1970. We present a descriptive model of disability that can account for a) the secular decline in prevalence; b) changes in slope of the age-profile; and c) periods of increasing prevalence. The high level and relatively flat slope of the historical disability age-profile is consistent with the early onset of chronic conditions and with high mortality associated with a subset of those conditions. We show that many common conditions in the 19th century have been either eliminated, delayed to later ages, ...

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