The Effect of Occupational Licensing on Consumer Welfare: Early Midwifery Laws & Maternal Mortality
- Wednesday, November 29, 2017 from 12:00pm to 1:00pm
- Strand Union Building, 168 - view map
Occupational licensing is intended to protect consumers. Whether it does so is an important, but unanswered, question. In this study, Dr. Mark Anderson examines how the adoption of state midwifery licensing requirements in the early 20th century affected the liklihood of dying from complications of pregnancy and childbirth among American women. This historical episode represents a unique natural experiment that can be leveraged to document the causal effect of licensing on health. Unlike today, American women in the early 20th century typically gave birth at home, where they were attended by a single health care provider, either a doctor or a midwife, who had sole responsibility for the health of the mother and infant. By drawing on historical data, it is possible to estimate the relationship between requiring that a group of health care providers (midwives) be licensed and a specific consumer health outcome (maternal mortality) over which they had a direct, immediate and profound impact.