Bismarck's Health Insurance and the Mortality Decline

IZA Logo

IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 06.03.2018, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Stefan Bauernschuster (University of Passau)


We investigate the impact on mortality of the world's rst compulsory health insurance, established by Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of the German Empire, in 1884. Multiple empirical approaches, based on international comparisons and di erence-in-di erences strategies using Prussian administrative panel data to exploit di erences in eligibility for insurance across occupations, yield a consistent pattern suggesting that Bismarck's Health Insurance generated a signi cant mortality reduction. The results are largely driven by a decline of deaths from infectious diseases. We present prima facie evidence that di usion of new hygiene knowledge through physicians was an important channel.

Download complete paper   
For more information, please contact