The New Deal led to unprecedented involvement by the federal government in the provision of relief. Although New Deal officials argued that they sought to be nondiscriminatory in providing access to programs, various scholars have suggested that blacks received fewer benefits than whites. One method for testing the effectiveness of the New Deal at reaching households with low incomes is to examine its impact on infant mortality. In this paper we use county-level data from three subperiods during the 1930s to examine the relationship between several New Deal spending programs and black and white infant mortality in the South. Some New Deal programs contributed to a reduction in infant mortality, but other factors may have been strong contributors to a long-term secular decline in infant mortality. Meanwhile, some of the New Deal programs appear to have been nondiscriminatory or even more beneficial for blacks than for whites, while others appear to have had differential effects that favored whites.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Economics and Econometrics