The Effect of Occupational Licensing on Consumer Welfare: Early Midwifery Laws and Maternal Mortality

64 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2016

See all articles by D. Mark Anderson

D. Mark Anderson

Montana State University - Bozeman - Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics

Ryan Brown

University of Colorado at Denver - Department of Economics

Kerwin Kofi Charles

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy

Daniel I. Rees

University of Colorado Denver; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: July 2016

Abstract

Occupational licensing is intended to protect consumers. Whether it does so is an important, but unanswered, question. Exploiting variation across states and municipalities in the timing and details of midwifery laws introduced during the period 1900-1940, and using a rich data set that we assembled from primary sources, we find that requiring midwives to be licensed reduced maternal mortality by 6 to 7 percent. In addition, we find that requiring midwives to be licensed may have had led to modest reductions in nonwhite infant mortality and mortality among children under the age of 2 from diarrhea. These estimates provide the first econometric evidence of which we are aware on the relationship between licensure and consumer safety, and are directly relevant to ongoing policy debates both in the United States and in the developing world surrounding the merits of licensing midwives.

Suggested Citation

Anderson, D. Mark and Brown, Ryan and Charles, Kerwin Kofi and Rees, Daniel I., The Effect of Occupational Licensing on Consumer Welfare: Early Midwifery Laws and Maternal Mortality (July 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w22456, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2816730

D. Mark Anderson (Contact Author)

Montana State University - Bozeman - Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics ( email )

Bozeman, MT 59717-2920
United States

Ryan Brown

University of Colorado at Denver - Department of Economics ( email )

Campus Box 181
P.O. Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364
United States

Kerwin Kofi Charles

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
(773) 834-8922 (Phone)

Daniel I. Rees

University of Colorado Denver ( email )

Campus Box 181
P.O. Box 173364
Denver, CO 80218
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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