NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Public Health Efforts and the Decline in Urban Mortality

D. Mark Anderson, Kerwin Kofi Charles, Daniel I. Rees

NBER Working Paper No. 25027
Issued in September 2018, Revised in December 2018
NBER Program(s):Program on Children, Program on the Development of the American Economy, Health Economics Program

Using data on 25 major American cities for the period 1900-1940, we explore the effects of municipal-level public health efforts that were viewed as critical in the fight against food- and water-borne diseases. In addition to studying interventions such as treating sewage and setting strict bacteriological standards for milk, which have received little attention in the literature, we provide new evidence on the effects of water filtration and chlorination, extending the work of previous scholars. Contrary to the consensus view, we find that none of the interventions under study contributed substantially to the observed declines in total and infant mortality.

This paper includes a comment on an earlier NBER working paper. The authors of that paper have posted a response. A rejoinder is available here.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25027

 
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