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Germs in the Family: The Short- and Long-Term Consequences of Intra-Household Disease Spread (WP-21-53)

N. Meltem Daysal, Hui Ding, Maya Rossin-Slater, and Hannes Schwandt

Preschool-aged children get sick frequently and spread disease to other family members. Despite the universality of this experience, there is limited causal evidence on the magnitudes and consequences of these externalities, especially for infant siblings with developing immune systems and brains. The researchers use Danish administrative data to document that, before age one, younger siblings have 2–3  times higher hospitalization rates for respiratory conditions than older siblings. They combine birth order and within-municipality variation in respiratory disease prevalence among young children, and find lasting differential impacts of early-life respiratory disease exposure on younger siblings’ earnings, educational attainment, and mental health-related outcomes.
Meltem Daysal, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Copenhagen

Hui Ding, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Center for Health and Wellbeing, Princeton University

Maya Rossin-Slater, Associate Professor, Department of Health Policy, Stanford University

Hannes Schwandt, Associate Professor of Human Development and Social Policy and IPR Fellow, Northwestern University

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