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Transportation and Health in the Antebellum United States 1820-1847

Ariell Zimran

NBER Working Paper No. 24943
Issued in August 2018, Revised in November 2019
NBER Program(s):Program on the Development of the American Economy, Development Economics Program

I study the impact of transportation on health in the rural US, 1820–1847. Measuring health by average stature, I find that greater transportation linkage, as measured by market access, in a cohort’s county-year of birth had an adverse impact on its health. A one-standard deviation increase in market access reduced average stature by 0.14 inches, and rising market access over the study period can explain 37 percent of the contemporaneous decline in average stature, known as the Antebellum Puzzle. I find evidence that transportation affected health by increasing population density, leading to a worse epidemiological environment.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24943

 
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