Recessions, Mortality, and Migration Bias: Evidence from the Lancashire Cotton Famine | Abstract

We examine the health effects of the Lancashire Cotton Famine, a sharp downturn in the cotton textile manufacturing regions of Britain induced by the U.S. Civil War. This is a setting characterized by limited social safety nets, and where migration was a key margin of adjustment. This migratory response introduces a number of empirical challenges, which we overcome by developing a new approach to estimation. Results show a detrimental effect on health for both cotton workers and their families, as well as for residents of migrant-receiving districts, who were exposed to congestion externalities.