Working Papers

The Long-term Impact of Public Health Measures Targeting Children (Job Market Paper)
Current Version: [ pdf ]

Abstract: This paper estimates the long-run impact of childhood exposure to public health initiatives on adult human capital. From 1908 to 1933, local governments in the United States instituted county-level health departments (CHDs) that provided sanitation and health services geared toward children. To estimate the long-term benefits, I exploit variation in the timing, location, and age of CHD exposure. Children treated under the age of five show later-life earnings improvements of three to four percent. I investigate the mechanisms underlying this effect and demonstrate that higher earnings emerge from better adult health, measured by cognition, body mass index, and the probability of living to age 80.

Explaining Declines in US Rural Mortality, 1910-1933: The Role of County Health Departments
Current Version: [ pdf | poster ]

Revision requested, Explorations in Economic History

Abstract: This study assesses the impact of an American rural public health intervention on child mortality over the years 1908 to 1933. Due to the absence of sanitation and child-oriented health services outside of urban areas, public and private agencies sponsored county-level health departments (CHDs) throughout the United States. Population health improvements are identified through variation in the location and timing of investments. Results reveal mortality declines for infants and young children under the age of five. For the general population, CHDs prevent roughly three child deaths per 1,000 births. Nonwhite infants are disproportionately benefited and experience a reduction by seven deaths per 1,000 births.

Taxation, Inequality, and the Provision of Local Public Health
Current Version: [ pdf ]

Abstract: This paper examines the factors that shaped the appropriation of rural public health through county health departments (CHDs) in the early twentieth century. Using digitized county-level records on property values and taxation, I find that adopting states had local governments centered around the county. Within state, I discover that counties implementing services were more urban and had higher per household property values and taxes. Based on these findings, I consider whether the CHDs were redistributive within county and find that CHDs operated in areas with higher levels of land and income inequality. These results suggest that public programs based on local revenue may help to mitigate inequality within the region of jurisdiction but may exacerbate disparities between adopting and non-adopting areas. External funding from higher levels of government as well as private donors helped to randomize the effort and spread the health services more evenly between counties.

Works In Progress

Public Health Spillovers: City Infrastructure Investments and the Nearest Neighbor Effect

Revisiting the Rural Mortality Decline in the United States, 1890-1930

The Household Bargaining Effects of Divorce Legalization: Evidence from Chile

Divorce Laws and Women’s Bargaining Power: A Combined Reduced Form-Structural Approach (with Jacob Penglase)