Hookworm Eradication as an Instrument for Schooling in the American South

56 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2014

See all articles by John A. Henderson

John A. Henderson

Yale University, Department of Political Science

Date Written: August 24, 2014


I exploit an historical natural experiment to assess whether more schooling causes greater vote participation. Specifically, I leverage the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission’s (RSC) campaign to eradicate hookworm infection in the early-20th century American South as a plausibly-exogenous instrument for primary and secondary education. I evaluate three county-level interventions from the public health campaign: exposure to the campaign, proportion treated, and pre-campaign hookworm incidence. I use genetic matching to condition on factors that may have driven the haphazard way the RSC collected hookworm incidence rates and targeted counties for treatment, and develop new matching methods for continuous instruments. I then use permutation inference to assess the strength of the campaign exposure instruments, and I employ a simultaneous sensitivity analysis to evaluate robustness to any remaining bias or exclusion restriction violations. Throughout, I find a robust and positive effect of education on participation, not accounted for by other potentially non-excluded paths.

Keywords: instrumental variables, permutation inference, matching, sensitivity analysis, schooling, participation, hookworm, Rockefeller Sanitary Commission

Suggested Citation

Henderson, John A., Hookworm Eradication as an Instrument for Schooling in the American South (August 24, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2486223 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2486223

John A. Henderson (Contact Author)

Yale University, Department of Political Science ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

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