Independent Research Fund Denmark (DFF)
The impacts of medical knowledge diffusion and labor supply shortages on physician quality, health outcomes, and innovation
Over the past century, population health has improved dramatically, and healthcare has emerged as an industry of vital importance to contemporary society. Yet, little is known about the contribution of medical education to the health transition and human welfare. The First World War (WWI) provides a rare situation to study the impacts of intensive medical training. In the early 20th century, U.S. medicine lagged that of Europe. The mobilization for WWI provided thousands of U.S. physicians and nurses with additional training and exposure to innovative medical practices. After WWI, many returned to the US to work in hospitals. What impacts did the transmission of medical knowledge have on the medical system? We study the effects on mortality, medical innovation, and patenting. Coinciding with WWI, the 1918 influenza pandemic killed many young doctors and nurses. Thus, we also study whether the disruption to physician labor supply affected both the provision and quality of health care.