NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Was What Ail'd Ya' What Kill'd Ya'?

Robert W. Fogel, Louis Cain, Joseph Burton, Brian Bettenhausen

NBER Working Paper No. 17322
Issued in August 2011
NBER Program(s):   AG

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 ratios for dying of a specific condition, there is support for the idea that what ail’d ya’ is what kill’d ya’.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17322

Published: Fogel, Robert W. & Cain, Louis & Burton, Joseph & Bettenhausen, Brian, 2013. "Was what ail’d ya what kill’d ya?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 269-280. citation courtesy of

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