Joshua A. Lewis

University of Montreal
Département de sciences économiques
3150 rue Jean-Brillant
Montréal, QC, H3T 1N8

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: University of Montreal

NBER Working Papers and Publications

May 2020The Value of Health Insurance during a Crisis: Effects of Medicaid Implementation on Pandemic Influenza Mortality
with Karen Clay, Edson R. Severnini, Xiao Wang: w27120
This paper studies how better access to public health insurance affects infant mortality during pandemics. Our analysis combines cross-state variation in mandated eligibility for Medicaid with two influenza pandemics — the 1957-58 "Asian Flu" pandemic and the 1968-69 "Hong Kong Flu" — that arrived shortly before and after the program's introduction. Exploiting heterogeneity in the underlying severity of these two shocks across counties, we find no relationship between Medicaid eligibility and pandemic infant mortality during the 1957-58 outbreak. After Medicaid implementation, we find that better access to insurance in high-eligibility states substantially reduced infant mortality during the 1968-69 pandemic. The reductions in pandemic infant mortality are too large to be attributable sole...
April 2016Canary in a Coal Mine: Infant Mortality, Property Values, and Tradeoffs Associated with Mid-20th Century Air Pollution
with Karen Clay, Edson Severnini: w22155
Investments in local development and infrastructure projects often generate negative externalities such as pollution. Previous work has either focused on the potential for these investments to stimulate local economic activity or the health costs associated with air pollution. This paper examines the tradeoffs associated with the historical expansion in coal-fired electricity generation in the United States, which fueled local development but produced large amounts of unregulated air pollution. We focus on a highly responsive measure of health tradeoffs: the infant mortality rate. Our analysis leverages newly digitized data on all major coal-fired power plants for the period 1938-1962, and two complementary difference-in-differences strategies based on the opening of power plants and new g...
October 2015Pollution, Infectious Disease, and Mortality: Evidence from the 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic
with Karen Clay, Edson Severnini: w21635
The 1918 Influenza Pandemic killed millions worldwide and hundreds of thousands in the United States. This paper studies the impact of air pollution on pandemic mortality. The analysis combines a panel dataset on infant and all-age mortality with a novel measure of air pollution based on the burning of coal in a large sample of U.S. cities. We estimate that air pollution contributed significantly to pandemic mortality. Cities that used more coal experienced tens of thousands of excess deaths in 1918 relative to cities that used less coal with similar pre-pandemic socioeconomic conditions and baseline health. Factors related to poverty, public health, and the timing of onset also affected pandemic mortality. The findings support recent medical evidence on the link between air pollution and ...

Published: Karen Clay & Joshua Lewis & Edson Severnini, 2018. "Pollution, Infectious Disease, and Mortality: Evidence from the 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic," The Journal of Economic History, vol 78(04), pages 1179-1209. citation courtesy of

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