Fetal Shock or Selection? The 1918 Influenza Pandemic and Human Capital Development
Almond (2006) argues that in-utero exposure to the 1918 inﬂuenza pandemic lowered socioeconomic status in adulthood, whereas subsequent work has argued that exposed cohorts may have been selected. We bring new evidence on the lasting impact of in-utero exposure to the pandemic. Linking census microdata to WWII enlistment records and city-level inﬂuenza data allows us to adopt an empirical approach that exploits pandemic intensity as a source of identifying variation. We show that pandemic intensity is less related to parental characteristics, suggesting this approach can more credibly be interpreted as causal. Our results indicate that in-utero exposure to the pandemic lowered high school graduation rates.