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Joint PAM & Labor Economics Workshop - Max Kiniria

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 11:40am

Max Kiniria

Cornell University, Ph.D. Candidate

115 Ives Hall

"The Mortality Effects of Local Boards of Health in England, 1848-70"

The Public Health Act of 1848 was England's first attempt at systematic sanitation improvement. Between 1848 and 1870, it oversaw the adoption of more than 600 local boards of health (comprising roughly one quarter of the English population), each of which it endowed with the power to improve infrastructure, provide street cleaning services, regulate new construction, tax its inhabitants, and borrow from the Exchequer. Since the jurisdictions of local boards were not coterminous with most other administrative, statistical, or natural boundaries, the mortality effects of local boards have been largely unexplored. In this paper I introduce a new panel dataset that matches the jurisdictions of local boards of health to the jurisdictions of poor law unions. I then leverage variation in both the timing and extent of board adoption across unions in order to estimate the cumulative effect of local boards on mortality rates 1, 2, 3, and 4 years after adoption. My estimates suggest that local boards reduced mortality by 14.2 percent after four years. Accounting for incomplete take-up, this amounts to a 3.7 percent reduction in mortality by 1870 in England as a whole. I calculate that local boards saved approximately 225,000 lives over 23 years, nearly ten times the number of British casualties during the Crimean War.

Event Categories: Labor Economics