Early-Life Disease Exposure and Occupational Status: The Impact of Yellow Fever During the 19th Century
49 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2013 Last revised: 7 Sep 2016
Date Written: September 5, 2016
Using city-of-birth data from the 100-percent sample of the 1880 Census merged to city-level fatality counts, I estimate the relationship between early-life yellow fever exposure and adult occupational status. I find that white males with immigrant mothers were less likely to become professionals and more likely to become unskilled laborers or report occupational nonresponse if they were born during yellow fever epidemics. They also reported occupations with lower 1900 occupational income scores. The children of U.S.-born mothers (who were less susceptible to the disease) were relatively unaffected. Furthermore, I find no evidence that epidemics 3 to 4 years after birth affect adult occupational status and the results are robust to controlling for local trade during an individual's birth year.
Keywords: fetal origins, early childhood, yellow fever, occupation, urban mortality penalty
JEL Classification: N31, I13, I14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation