Deprivation and Disease in Early Twentieth-Century America

54 Pages Posted: 15 May 2006 Last revised: 1 Nov 2010

See all articles by Karen Clay

Karen Clay

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Werner Troesken

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

Date Written: March 2006

Abstract

This paper explores how early life exposure to poverty and want adversely affects later life health outcomes. In particular, it examines how exposure to crowded housing conditions and impure drinking water undermines long-term health prospects and increases the risk of age-related pathologies such as cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke. Exploiting city-level data from early-twentieth century America, evidence is presented that cities with unusually high rates of typhoid fever in 1900 had elevated rates of heart and kidney disease fifteen years later; also cities with unusually high rates of tuberculosis in 1900 had elevated rates of cancer and stroke fifteen years later. The estimated coefficients suggest that eradicating typhoid fever (through water purification) and tuberculosis (through improved housing and nutrition) would have reduced later death rates from heart disease, cancer, stroke, and kidney disease by 23 to 35 percent.

Suggested Citation

Clay, Karen B. and Troesken, Werner, Deprivation and Disease in Early Twentieth-Century America (March 2006). NBER Working Paper No. w12111. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=893766

Karen B. Clay

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Werner Troesken (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - Department of Economics ( email )

4901 Wesley Posvar Hall
230 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States
412-648-7451 (Phone)
412-648-9074 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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