NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Watersheds in Infant Mortality: The Role of Effective Water and Sewerage Infrastructure, 1880 to 1915

Marcella Alsan, Claudia Goldin

NBER Working Paper No. 21263
Issued in June 2015
NBER Program(s):Development of the American Economy, Development Economics

We explore the first period of decline in infant mortality in the U.S. and provide estimates of the independent and combined effects of clean water and effective sewerage systems on infant mortality. Our case is Massachusetts, 1880-1915, when state authorities developed a sewerage and water district for municipalities in the Boston Greater Metropolitan area. We find that the two interventions were complementary and together accounted for approximately 37 percent of the total decline in log infant mortality among treated municipalities during the 36 years considered. Considerable research has documented the importance of clean water interventions for improvement in population health, but there is less evidence on the importance of sewerage systems. Our findings are directly relevant to urbanization in the developing world and suggest that a dual-pronged approach of safe water and sewerage is important to improving infant and early child survival.

download in pdf format
   (3025 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21263

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Duflo, Greenstone, Guiteras, and Clasen w21521 Toilets Can Work: Short and Medium Run Health Impacts of Addressing Complementarities and Externalities in Water and Sanitation
Hanlon w20471 Temporary Shocks and Persistent Effects in the Urban System: Evidence from British Cities after the U.S. Civil War
Geruso and Spears w21184 Neighborhood Sanitation and Infant Mortality
Alsan and Wanamaker w22323 Tuskegee and the Health of Black Men
Hornbeck and Keniston w20467 Creative Destruction: Barriers to Urban Growth and the Great Boston Fire of 1872
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us