Tetanus, Death, and Aerobics: The Evaluation of Disease-Specific Public Health Interventions

William H. Dow, Jessica Homes, Tomas Philipson and Xavier X. Sala-i-Martin

Yale Economics Growth Center Working Paper # 736, August 1995


This paper provides a theoretical and empirical investigation of the positive complementarities between disease-specific policies introduced by competing risks of mortality. The incentive to invest in prevention against one cause of death depends positively on the level of survival from other causes. This means that a specific public health intervention has benefits other than the direct medical reduction in mortality: it affects the incentives to fight other diseases so the overall reduction in mortality will, in general, be larger than the predicted by the direct medical effects. We discuss evidence of these cross-disease effects by using data on neo-natal tetanus vaccination through the Expanded Programme on Immunization of the World Health Organization.

JEL Classification

I0, I1


Complementarities, Disease-specific Public Health Interventions, Tetanus Programs, Endogenous Mortality

This paper also circulates as

Disease complementarities and the evaluation of public health interventions, NBER working paper # 5216, August 1995