Childhood Health Shocks, Comparative Advantage, and Long-Term Outcomes: Evidence from the Last Danish Polio Epidemic

27 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2018 Last revised: 21 Aug 2021

See all articles by Miriam Gensowski

Miriam Gensowski

University of Copenhagen

Torben Heien Nielsen

University of Copenhagen

Nete Nielsen

Statens Serums Institut

Maya Rossin-Slater

Stanford University

Miriam Wüst

The Danish National Centre for Social Research

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 2018

Abstract

A large literature documents that childhood health shocks have lasting negative consequences for adult outcomes. This paper demonstrates that the adversity of childhood physical disability can be mediated by individuals' educational and occupational choices, which reflect their comparative advantage. We merge records on children hospitalized with poliomyelitis during the 1952 Danish epidemic to census and administrative data, and exploit quasi-random variation in paralysis incidence. While childhood disability increases the likelihood of early retirement and disability pension receipt at age 50, paralytic polio survivors obtain higher education and are more likely to work in white-collar and computer-demanding jobs than their non-paralytic counterparts.

Suggested Citation

Gensowski, Miriam and Nielsen, Torben Heien and Nielsen, Nete and Rossin-Slater, Maya and Wüst, Miriam, Childhood Health Shocks, Comparative Advantage, and Long-Term Outcomes: Evidence from the Last Danish Polio Epidemic (June 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w24753, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3202057

Miriam Gensowski (Contact Author)

University of Copenhagen ( email )

Nørregade 10
Copenhagen, København DK-1165
Denmark

Torben Heien Nielsen

University of Copenhagen ( email )

Nørregade 10
Copenhagen, København DK-1165
Denmark

Nete Nielsen

Statens Serums Institut ( email )

Ørestads Boulevard 5
Copenhagen, 2300S
Denmark

Maya Rossin-Slater

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Miriam Wüst

The Danish National Centre for Social Research ( email )

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