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Quantifying the impact of aid to dependent children: An epidemiological framework⁎

Gregori Galofré Vilà

Explorations in Economic History, 2020, vol. 77, issue C

Abstract: This paper shows that conditional cash transfers under Aid to Dependent Children (ADC), a main program of the 1935 Social Security Act, reduced infant, children and adult mortality. I take advantage of the transition from mothers’ pensions to ADC and the large differences in ADC payments and eligibility across 104 cities, 2,260 counties, and 49 states to estimate the impacts of cash transfers on mortality rates, by age, sex, race, and cause between 1929 and 1944. I find that ADC's expansion reduced infant and adult mortality by between 10 and 20 percent. This finding, based on an event-study design, is robust to a range of specifications, difference-and-differences, an instrumental variable strategy, a range of fixed effects, placebo tests and a border-pair policy discontinuity design. The largest mortality reductions came from drops in communicable and infectious diseases, such as influenza, pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Keywords: Mortality; Cash transfers; Social Security; Aid to Dependent Children; United States; New Deal; Social Security Act (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I13 I15 J10 N01 N32 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:exehis:v:77:y:2020:i:c:s0014498320300188

DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2020.101332

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