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Multigenerational Effects of Smallpox Vaccination

Volha Lazuka () and Peter Jensen ()
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Volha Lazuka: Department of Economic History, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economic History, Lund University, Box 7083, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden

No 232, Lund Papers in Economic History from Lund University, Department of Economic History

Abstract: This paper aims at finding whether vaccination in childhood is an important source of improved health over the life cycle and across generations. We leverage high-quality individual-level data from Sweden covering the full life spans of three generations between 1790 and 2016 and a historical quasi-experiment – a smallpox vaccination campaign. To derive the causal impact of this campaign, we employ the instrumental-variables approach and the siblings/cousins fixed effects. Our results show that the vaccine injection by age 2 improved longevity of the first generation by 14 years and made them much wealthier in adult ages. These effects, with the magnitude reduced by two thirds, persisted to the second and the third generation. Such magnitudes make vaccination a powerful health input in the very long term and suggest the transmission of environmental beyond genetic factors.

Keywords: intergenerational transmission of health; smallpox vaccination; instrumental- variables; Sweden (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: E24 I12 I15 I18 I38 J24 N43 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 62 pages
Date: 2021-12-13
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea, nep-his and nep-mac
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