Abstract

This paper evaluates the effect of a universal and free antenatal and infant well-visit program on infant mortality. The program under study was launched in Sweden in 1938. It expanded rapidly, covering close to all of Sweden in 1945. Using a difference-in-differences approach, I find that the program had a negative effect on infant mortality that is very robust. The program (intent-to-treat) effect translates to a 7% reduction in infant mortality at its pre program mean. Detailed cause of death data show that almost all of the effect comes from reductions in deaths from pneumonia. I argue that the main effect with which the program affected infant mortality was by increasing early detection and treatment of pneumonia using the newly discovered Sulfa drugs (Sulfapyridine). Sulfa drugs improved availability and decreased the cost of pneumonia treatment. This complementarity with existing medical technologies was more effective in areas with poor pre program infant health.

 

 

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