A Reassessment of the Role of Water Improvements in the Urban Mortality Decline in the United States, 1900-1930

Gretchen A. Condran, Temple University
Chuck P. Galli, Temple University

During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the western world was the site of massive changes in technology. In addition to the improvements in economic well-bring,dramatic changes occurred in views of disease and disease causation, in the administrative apparatus surrounding the public’s health, and in the methods of preventing and treating disease. However, the impact of these changes on the health and mortality transitions remains contested. Focusing on water purity and purification, in this paper I examine the role these technological changes played in mortality decline from typhoid fever and a number of other causes of death using data from all registration cities over 50,000 in population in 1930. My results suggest that previous research has overestimated these effects.

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Presented in Session 207: Public Health and Demography II