Projects Prof. Jonathan Fox, Ph.D.

Long-Term Spatial Trends in Fertility and Population Dynamics in Europe

Over the last 150 years, European countries have witnessed drastic reductions in the internal variability of fertility levels, while important differences between countries have persisted. At the same time, some parts of Europe have substantially gained in population size, mostly due to migration, while others have stagnated in their development or even have lost population. This project aims to improve our understanding of the mechanisms driving these aggregate-level spatial patterns and trends by taking into account political and socio-economic interdependencies between the regions. A particular emphasis is put on continuities and discontinuities in the existing spatial variation patterns. The results are also relevant to improve fertility and population projections at small and medium geographic scale, e.g. projections needed for the modeling of climate change and its potential impact.

Public Health, Poor Relief, and Improving Urban Child Mortality Outcomes in the Decade Prior to the New Deal

This project examines the effectiveness of the conservation of child life and poverty relief programs prior to the New Deal. Prior researchers have speculated the conservation of child life programs, centered on the provision of public health education, contributed to declining mortality rates during the 1920s. However, there has yet to be an econometric estimate of their impact across American urban areas. This paper uses data on municipal conservation of child life and social insurance expenditures to separately estimate how effective each of these programs were at reducing infant and child mortality. The effects are identified using the within variation for a panel of 68 cities over 10 years. Of the programs considered, fixed effects estimations suggest that it was primarily the conservation of child life programs which led to lower infant and child mortality during the 1920s, and that for both groups it required a period of two years to generate an effect. Fixed effects estimates indicate that 1 dollar of per capita conservation of child life spending in year t reduced infant mortality by about 5 percent and child mortality by about 7 percent in year t+2.

Origins and effects of the rural public health programs in North Carolina

This project investigates the growth and effectiveness of the Country Health Organization (CHO) movement within the state of North Carolina. North Carolina was a pioneer in the rural public health movement. They opened one of the first CHOs in 1911, were home to about a third of all County Health Organizations in U.S. by 1917, and represented the first public health department to develop a state-wide plan of county health work. This study evaluates the effectiveness of these CHOs based on changes in infant mortality, mortality from diarrhea and enteritis, and typhoid morbidity rates between 1910 and 1930 associated with the timing of county health work. Initial results suggest that these rural public health efforts led to reductions in mortality due to diarrhea and enteritis and typhoid morbidity. However, while infant mortality rates declined across the counties, whether the presence of a CHO was responsible for this is less clear. This stands in contrast to studies of comparable programs occurring during the same time period at the state and city level. Work remains to better understand the timing of CHOs across the state of North Carolina. Although early analysis indicates that political variables do not hold a high level of explanatory power and that it was mainly the health conditions of the county which determined the presence of a CHO, these results are only preliminary.

Is a Positive Relationship between Fertility and Economic Development Emerging at the Sub-National Regional Level? Theoretical Considerations and Evidence from Europe

Evidence for nation-states suggests that the long-standing negative relationship between fertility and economic development turns positive at high levels of development. The robustness of the reversal continues to be debated. We add to this discussion from a novel angle by considering whether such reversal could occur at the sub-national regional level. Our contributions are both theoretical and empirical. We first discuss important trends which might foster the emergence of a positive fertility-development relationship within highly developed countries. Then we investigate data covering 20 European countries and 256 sub-national regions between 1990 and 2012. We document a weakening of the negative relationship between fertility and economic development within many countries, and among some countries find a positive relationship. These findings do not seem to be driven by postponement effects alone. However, there is substantial variation in the fertility and the economic development levels at which such tendencies toward a reversal are observed.

The labor market returns to attending a female dominated school

Project examines the differences in labor market outcomes between women who attended schools with a high concentration of females versus who did not. Estimates from a regression adjustment and propensity score weighting model indicate that women who graduated from these types of universities saw returns on the order of about 11 percent upon first entry into the labor market. However, the effects disappear after 10 years. Propensity score matching techniques are then used to determine if these effects differ among population subgroups. The effects are strongest for women who attended less selective universities and those entering higher paying professions.

Publications and forthcoming articles

Fox, Jonathan F., Kai Willführ, Alain Gagnon, Lisa Dillon, and Eckart Voland. “The consequences of sibling rivalry on survival and reproductive success across different ecological contexts: A comparison of the historical Krummhörn and Quebec populations,” The History of the Family, forthcoming

Allen, Samuel, Jonathan F. Fox, Brendan Livingston and Price V. Fishback. “The Public Safety Net," in The Oxford Handbook of American Economic History, forthcoming.

Fox, Jonathan F. and Mikko Myrskylä. “Urban Fertility Responses to Local Government Programs: Evidence from the 1923-1932 U.S.” Demographic Research, Vol. 32, No. 16, pp. 487-532, 2015.

Fox, Jonathan F., Price V. Fishback and Paul W. Rhode. “The Effects of Weather Shocks on Crop Prices in Unfettered Markets: The United States Prior to the Farm Programs, 1895-1932", in The Economics of Climate Change: Adaptations Past and Present, edited by Gary D. Libecap and Richard H. Steckel, 2011.

Fishback, Price V., Samuel Allen, Jonathan F. Fox and Brendan Livingston. “A Patchwork Safety Net: A Survey of Cliometric Studies of Income Maintenance Programs in the United States in the First Half of the Twentieth Century." Journal of Economic Surveys, Vol. 24, No. 5, pp. 895-940, 2010.