6 May 2019

Miriam Wüst, Miriam Gensowski and Torben Heien Nielsen publish in Journal of Health Economics.

Journal of Health Economics accepts for publication the work “Childhood Health Shocks, Comparative Advantages, and Long-term Outcomes: Evidence from the Last Danish Polio Epidemic“, by the three CEBI researchers Miriam Wüst, Miriam Gensowski and Torben Heien Nielsen joint with Nete Nielsen (SSI) and Maya Rossin-Slater (Stanford).


This paper examines the long-term effects of childhood disability on individuals’ educational and occupational choices, late-career labor market participation, and mortality. We merge medical records on children hospitalized with poliomyelitis during the 1952 Danish epidemic to census and administrative data, and exploit quasi-random variation in paralysis incidence in this population.

While childhood disability increases the likelihood of early retirement and disability pension receipt at age 50, paralytic polio survivors are more likely to obtain a university degree and to go on to work in white-collar and computer-demanding jobs than their non-paralytic counterparts.

Our results are consistent with individuals making educational and occupational choices that reflect a shift in the comparative advantage of cognitive versus physical skills. We also find that paralytic polio patients from low socioeconomic status backgrounds are more likely to die prematurely than their non-paralytic counterparts, whereas there is no effect on mortality among polio survivors from morre advantaged backgrounds.

You can read the research paper here