NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Saving Babies: The Contribution of Sheppard-Towner to the Decline in Infant Mortality in the 1920s

Carolyn M. Moehling, Melissa A. Thomasson

NBER Working Paper No. 17996
Issued in April 2012
NBER Program(s):   DAE

From 1922 to 1929, the Sheppard-Towner Act provided matching grants to states to fund maternal and infant care education initiatives. We examine the effects of this public health program on infant mortality. States engaged in different types of activities, allowing us to examine whether different interventions had differential effects on mortality. Interventions that provided one-on-one contact and opportunities for follow-up care, such as home visits by public health nurses, reduced infant deaths more than classes and conferences. Overall, we estimate that Sheppard-Towner activities can account for 9 to 21 percent of the decline in infant mortality over the period.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17996

Published: “Saving Babies: The Impact of Public Health Education Programs on Infant Mortality.” (with Carolyn Moehling). Demography, 51(2), April 2014, 367-386.

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