Infant Mortality and the Repeal of Federal Prohibition

David S. Jacks, Krishna Pendakur, Hitoshi Shigeoka

NBER Working Paper No. 23372
Issued in April 2017
NBER Program(s):Children, Development of the American Economy, Health Economics, Public Economics

Exploiting a newly constructed dataset on county-level variation in prohibition status from 1933 to 1939, this paper asks two questions: what were the effects of the repeal of federal prohibition on infant mortality? And were there any significant externalities from the individual policy choices of counties and states on their neighbors? We find that dry counties with at least one wet neighbor saw baseline infant mortality increase by roughly 3% while wet counties themselves saw baseline infant mortality increase by roughly 2%. Cumulating across the six years from 1934 to 1939, our results indicate an excess of 13,665 infant deaths that could be attributable to the repeal of federal prohibition in 1933.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23372

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