Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Research Papers in Economics,
Stockholm University, Department of Economics

No 2017:2: Water Improvement and Health: Historical Evidence on the Effect of Filtering Water on Urban Mortality

Daniel Knutsson ()
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Daniel Knutsson: Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University, Postal: Department of Economics, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: In this paper, I analyse how technologies for cleaning and distributing water can affect health using new historical data from Sweden. The city of Stockholm introduced a slow filter water cleaning system and piped distribu- tion network in 1861 enabling parts of the population in-house access. The historical context allows me to analyse these technologies without sewerage access as no major sewerage system was constructed at the same time. By using detailed information on water access through contemporary contract lists I can measure access to clean water with great precision. My findings suggest large beneficial effects of having access to clean in-house water. This effect is apparent for the general population but not as precise for infants and in line or even larger than previous estimates. I document heterogeneity in infant mortality with respect to gender where girls seem to have benefited more.

Keywords: Water; Piped water; Filtered water; Infant Mortality; Mortality; Public Health

JEL-codes: I15; I18; J11; N33; Q53

34 pages, April 21, 2017

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