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Chain effects of clean water: The Mills–Reincke phenomenon in early 20th-century Japan

Tatsuki Inoue and Kota Ogasawara

Economics & Human Biology, 2020, vol. 36, issue C

Abstract: This study explores the validity of chain effects of clean water, which are known as the “Mills–Reincke phenomenon,” in early 20-century Japan. Recent studies have reported that water purifications systems are responsible for huge contributions to human capital. Although some studies have investigated the instantaneous effects of water-supply systems in pre-war Japan, little is known about the chain effects of these systems. By analyzing city-level cause-specific mortality data from 1922 to 1940, we find that a decline in typhoid deaths by one per 1000 people decreased the risk of death due to non-waterborne diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia by 0.742–2.942 per 1000 people. Our finding suggests that the observed Mills–Reincke phenomenon could have resulted in the relatively rapid decline in the mortality rate in early 20-century Japan.

Keywords: Mills–Reincke phenomenon; Mortality rate; Typhoid fever; Piped water; Public health (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I18 N30 N35 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2019.100822

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