Ariell Zimran
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Transportation and Health in the Antebellum United States 1820-1847
Journal of Economic History 80:3, pp. 670-709
Revised version of NBER Working Paper 24943

I study the impact of transportation on health in the rural United States, 1820-1847. Measuring health by average stature, I find that greater transportation linkage, as measured by market access, in a cohort's county-year of birth had an adverse impact on its health. A one-standard-deviation increase in market access reduced average stature by 0.14 inches, and rising market access over the study period can explain 37 percent of the contemporaneous decline in average stature, known as the Antebellum Puzzle. I find evidence that transportation affected health by increasing population density, leading to a worse epidemiological environment.