Income and Health in African America: Evidence from Union Army Pensions

Trevon D. Logan, Ohio State University
Shari Eli, University of Toronto

This is the first study to address the role of income in historical health for African Americans. We use the African American Union Army veterans data as it contains information on early life conditions, pension income, specific health status measures and cause of death. We present the fist descriptive historical analysis of the relationship between income and health status for African Americans. Veterans received pensions based on proof of disability at medical exams, estimates of the causal effect of income on mortality will be biased as ill veterans received larger pensions. We propose an exogenous source of variation in pension income that exploits the historical circumstances of pension determination: the term length of the examining surgeon who certified illness. Examining surgeons are unrelated to health but directly related to pension amount. We find that the causal effect of income on health for black veterans was large when correcting for endogenity.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 106: Health, Migration, Race, and Education