The National Economic Association is pleased to announce the following session at the upcoming WEAI meetings in Denver, scheduled for June 28, 2014 from 12:30 PM to 2:15 PM:

Session Information: Historical Perspectives on Health and Well-being

1. Title: Family, Labor and Loss: Income Mobility During the Great Depression
Author: Keoka Grayson

Abstract:
The Great Depression provides an important opportunity to study in-come mobility when an economy is at its most vulnerable. Nationwide real output per adult fell over 30%, and the unemployment rate likely reached 25 percent. We use data from Horst Menderhausen’s published work which is based on the Financial Survey of Urban Housing to investigate this. Using an ordered logit framework and simple first differencing, we found that 25 percent of the poorest Americans, those falling in the zero income category in 1929, were able to raise their incomes between 1929 and 1933. At the other end of the income spectrum, the highest income earners had nearly a 30% probability of remaining in the same nominal income category in 1933. A more intuitive pattern evolved for households in the top two-thirds of the distribution. More of these households tended to transition to lower income categories in states where per capita income fell.

Discussant: Terry-Ann Craigie

2. Title: For Want of a Cup: The Rise of Tea in England and The Impact Of Water Quality on Economic Development
Author: Francisca M. Antman

While it is now well accepted that access to clean water plays an important role in public health and economic development, there is little historical evidence for the role that clean water played in the development of the now-rich world. I investigate this question by exploiting a natural experiment on the effects of water quality on mortality—the advent of tea consumption in 18th century England. The custom of tea drinking spread rapidly throughout England, even among lower classes, and resulted in an unintentional increase in consumption of boiled water. Preliminary results suggest that areas with lower initial water quality had larger declines in mortality rates after tea drinking became widespread. A similar pattern of results holds in years following larger volumes of tea imports. Finally, I discuss the broader impact of this accidental improvement in public health which occurred at the same time that people were crowding into cities, thus providing the labor needed for industrialization.

Discussant: Terry-Ann Craigie

3.Title: Black Mortality in the Post Bellum Era: Evidence from Union Army Pensions
Authors: Shari Eli and Trevon D/ Logan

Abstract:
We investigate the effect of income increases on black mortality by using evidence from pensions received by black veterans who served as Union Army soldiers during the American Civil War. This is the first study to address the role of income at the microeconomic level in historical differences in health by race. The benefit of using the cohort of black Union Army veterans is that we have information on pension income, specific health status measures and cause of death. Since veterans received pensions based on proof of disability at medical exams, estimates of the effect of pension income on mortality will be biased upward. Ill veterans received larger pensions, which would lead to a biased estimate of the relationship. To circumvent endogeneity bias, we propose an exogenous source of variation in pension income that exploits the historical circumstances of pension determination: the presence of an African American doctor in the veteran’s home county in 1880. We find that the causal effect of income on health for black veterans was quite large when correcting for endogenity and the effect varies by health condition. Despite the large impact we
find, a back-of-the-envelope calculation reveals that the majority of the black-white health differential was not due to income.

Discussant: Rodney Andrews

4. Title: Adoption and Adult Outcomes in the Early 20th Century
Author: John Parman

Abstract:
Modern research has found strong links between family structure and children’s outcomes. One of the robust findings is that stepchildren and adopted children have worse adult outcomes compared to biological children. However, there is little historical research that explores the outcomes of non-biological children. In this study, by linking adopted children across U.S. federal censuses, we create a new dataset that contains rich information on both their childhood households and adult outcomes. To control for parent fixed effects, we also follow (non-adopted) siblings of adopted children into their adulthood. This unique dataset enables us to compare the long-run outcomes of adopted children and biological children controlling for observable and unobservable household characteristics. Our results suggests that educational attainment, income, and marriage patterns of adopted children differed significantly from biological children.

Discussant: Rodney Andrews


Rodney J. Andrews
Institutional Affiliation: The University of Texas at Dallas
email: rodney.j.andrews@gmail.com
Mailing Address:
800 West Campbell Road
MS WT21
Richardson, TX 75080

Terry-Ann Craigie
Institutional Affiliation: Connecticut College
email: tcraigie@conncoll.edu
mailing address:
270 Mohegan Avenue
New London, CT 06320

Keoka Grayson
Institutional Affiliation: Hobart and William Smith Colleges
email: grayson@hws.edu
mailing address:
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Department of Economics
Stern Hall
Geneva, NY 14456

Francisca Antman
Institutional Affiliation: The University of Colorado-Boulder
email: Francisca.Antman@colorado.edu
mailing address:
Department of Economics
University of Colorado
Campus Box 256
Boulder, CO 80309

Trevon D. Logan
Institutional Affiliation: The Ohio State University
email: logan.155@osu.edu
mailing address:
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Economics
410 Arps Hall | 1945 N. High Street
Columbus, OH 43210

Shari Eli
Institutional Affiliation: The University of Toronto
email: shari.eli@utoronto.ca
mailing address:
Dept. of Economics, U of Toronto
150 St. George Street
Toronto, ON M5S 3G7

John Parman
Institutional Affiliation: College of William and Mary
email: jmparman@wm.edu
mailing address:
Department of Economics
College of William & Mary
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795