The Developmental Origin of Disease and Health hypothesizes that the early-life, including pre-natal, shocks to health. affects individuals’ later-life health and mortality. Following a line of research established by Doug Almond (2006), we examine whether the 1918 influenza epidemic is a health shock which is orthogonal to chronic health status. Almond, however, does not present results on mortality rates. Our findings are that 1) cross sectional data does not exist which would allow us to treat the influenza epidemic as a field experiment with state-by-state variation, and that when we use what data exists, controlling for geographic variation in health, the influenza-exposed cohorts do not experience significantly higher mortality. This is at variance with Almond’s results. Econometric testing of the DOHaD hypothesis faces formidable barriers, and would require more careful attention to the life history of treatment and control cohorts than is common in economic analysis.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/stevesnyderz/1/