Sewerage Systems and the Infant Welfare Movement - Effects on Infant Mortality in Prussia

Nina Schwarz (University of Duisburg-Essen)

We analyse the impact of sewerage systems in Prussia on infant mortality by marital status of the mother. Using purposely digitised information on canalisations and administrative data on infant mortality, we find that the introduction of sewerage systems reduced infant mortality rates among children born out of wedlock by 12.5 deaths per 1,000 live births (12.7 per cent). For in-wedlock births, the reduction is one order of magnitude smaller; which suggests that canalisations contributed to a reduction in the socioeconomic gradient in child health. We further consider complementarities with milk depots, another public health intervention introduced in cities at around the same time, and find that the two interventions reinforced each other in their effects on infant health