Watersheds in Child Mortality: The Role of Effective Water and Sewerage Infrastructure, 1880 to 1920

48 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2015

See all articles by Marcella Alsan

Marcella Alsan

Stanford University

Claudia Goldin

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: June 2015

Abstract

We explore the first period of sustained decline in child mortality in the U.S. and provide estimates of the independent and combined effects of clean water and effective sewerage systems on under-five mortality. Our case is Massachusetts, 1880 to 1920, when authorities developed a sewerage and water district in the Boston area. We find the two interventions were complementary and together account for approximately one-third of the decline in log child mortality during the 41 years. Our findings are relevant to the developing world and suggest that a piecemeal approach to infrastructure investments is unlikely to significantly improve child health.

Suggested Citation

Alsan, Marcella and Goldin, Claudia, Watersheds in Child Mortality: The Role of Effective Water and Sewerage Infrastructure, 1880 to 1920 (June 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w21263. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2618651

Marcella Alsan (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Claudia Goldin

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-3934 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-588-0356 (Phone)
617-868-2742 (Fax)

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