September, 2015

The Developmental Effect of State Alcohol Prohibitions at the Turn of the 20th Century

  • Jonathan Klick

    Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School
  • Mary F. Evans, Eric Helland, Ashwin Patel

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We examine the quasi-randomization of alcohol consumption created by state-level alcohol prohibition laws passed in the U.S. in the early part of the 20th century. Using a large dataset of World War II enlistees, we exploit the differential timing of these laws to examine their effects on adult educational attainment, obesity, and height. We find statistically significant effects for education and obesity that do not appear to be the result of pre-existing trends. Our findings add to the growing body of economic studies that examines the long-run impacts of in utero and childhood environmental conditions.

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