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Citation Information

Type Journal Article
Title The captain of the men of death and his shadow: Long-run impacts of early life pneumonia exposure
Author(s)
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2011
URL https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/58826/1/689683677.pdf
Abstract
We exploit the introduction of sulfa drugs in 1937 to identify the causal 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 levels of pneumonia as these were the areas that benefited most from
the availability of sulfa drugs. These estimates are, in general, larger and more robust to
specification for men than for women. With the exception of cognitive disability and poverty
for men, the estimates for African Americans are smaller and less precisely estimated than
those for whites. This is despite our finding that African Americans experienced larger
absolute reductions in pneumonia mortality after the arrival of sulfa. We suggest that pre-Civil
Rights barriers may have inhibited their translating improved endowments into gains in
education and employment.

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