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Citation Information

Type Working Paper
Title The Long Run Effects of Early Life Pneumonia: Evidence from the Arrival of Sulfa Drugs in America
Author(s)
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2011
URL http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.364.4173&rep=rep1&type=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. Importantly, 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. While men and women show similar improvements on
most indicators, only the estimates for the former are robust to the inclusion of birth state
specific time trends. With the exception of cognitive disabilities for men and, in some
specifications, family income for men and women, estimates for African Americans tend to
be smaller in magnitude and less precisely estimated than those for whites. We speculate that
this may be due to barriers in translating improved endowments into gains in education and
employment in the pre-Civil Rights Era.

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