Death and the Media: Infectious Disease Reporting During the Health Transition

24 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2017

See all articles by Dora L. Costa

Dora L. Costa

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Matthew E. Kahn

University of Southern California; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: July 2017

Abstract

In the late 19th century, cities in Western Europe and the USA suffered from high levels of infectious disease. Over a 40‐year period, there was a dramatic decline in infectious disease deaths in cities. As such objective progress in urban quality of life took place, how did the media report this trend? At that time, newspapers were the major source of information educating urban households about the risks that they faced. By constructing a unique panel database, we find that news reports were positively associated with government‐announced typhoid mortality counts, and the size of this effect actually grew after local governments made large investments in public water works to reduce typhoid rates. News coverage was more responsive to unexpected increases in death rates than to unexpected decreases in death rates.

Suggested Citation

Costa, Dora L. and Kahn, Matthew E., Death and the Media: Infectious Disease Reporting During the Health Transition (July 2017). Economica, Vol. 84, Issue 335, pp. 393-416, 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2981366 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ecca.12227

Dora L. Costa (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Economics ( email )

Box 951477
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1477
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Matthew E. Kahn

University of Southern California ( email )

2250 Alcazar Street
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
0
Abstract Views
109
PlumX Metrics