Secondary Effects Of School Entry MMR Vaccine Mandates: How School Children Help Upcoming Birth Cohorts

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Speaker: Courtney Ward

Date/Time: October 24, 10 AM – 12 PM


State school immunization mandates of the late 1960s and 1970s had a substantial and immediate impact on the incidence of measles, mumps and rubella. While these mandates were targeted at the school age population, this paper shows that those in the prenatal stage of development had much to gain from such policies. Using variability in the timing of immunization mandates across U.S. states and comparing individuals with prenatal periods before and after immunization laws were enacted, I show that adoption of school mandates had an immediate effect on birth weight and a long-term effect on adult health. This suggests that external benefits from mandatory immunization policies are much broader than accounted for in previous literature.


Courtney J. Ward is an associate professor of economics at Dalhousie University. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and an M.A. from Queens University. Her research focuses on the implications of externality and selection effects in health production, and her work has particular emphasis on how these aspects interact with policy in intended or unintended ways. Her work is supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council and has been published in journals such as the American Economic Journal: Applied and the Canadian Journal of Economics.