Effect of Early-Life Exposure to Water-Borne Diseases on Old-Age Mortality in the United States

Magdalena Muszynska, Warsaw School of Economics
Seth Sanders, Duke University

We investigate whether exposure in early life to water-borne diseases leads to permanent scarring and increase in old-age mortality. Given the research hypothesis holds true, cohorts born in large American cities immediately after water treatment was widely implemented would have higher mortality at old age than cohorts born before that. We estimate a set of cox regression models applying data for Americans 65 years and older in 1975-2001 from the Social Security Medicare Part B merged to the NUMIDENT files. We demonstrate that those born at the beginning of the XX century in cities with a water treatment system had lower mortality at old age than those born prior to this health intervention. This effect characterized whites only and the opposite was true for African Americans: Those born after this public health intervention in their city of birth had higher mortality at old age than those born prior to that.

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Presented in Session 138: Public Health and Demography I