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Citation Information

Type Journal Article
Title Is The Captain of the Men of Death Still At Play? Long-Run Impacts of Early Life Pneumonia Exposure during Sulfa Drug Revolution in America
Author(s)
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2011
URL https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/48300/1/10_bhalotra.pdf
Abstract
We exploit the introduction of sulfa drugs in 1937 to identify the impact of
exposure to pneumonia in infancy on later life well-being and productivity in the United
States. Using census data from 1980-2000, we find that cohorts born after the introduction
of sulfa experienced increases in schooling, income, and the probability of employment, and
reductions in disability rates. These improvements were larger for those born in states with
higher pre-intervention pneumonia mortality rates, the areas that benefited most from the
availability of sulfa drugs. Men and women show similar improvements on most indicators
but the estimates for men are more persistently robust to the inclusion of birth state specific
time trends. With the exception of cognitive disabilities for men and, in some specifications,
work disability for men and family income, estimates for African Americans tend to be
smaller and less precisely estimated than those for whites. Since African Americans exhibit
larger absolute reductions in pneumonia mortality after the arrival of sulfa, we suggest that
the absence of consistent discernible long run benefits may reflect barriers they encountered
in translating improved endowments into gains in education and employment in the preCivil
Rights Era.

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