Racial Disparities in Health

Physician Bias and Veterans' Pensions
Friday, 28 September 2018 - 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm
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Contact person: 
Myra Yazbeck
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Free of charge
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"Racial Disparities in Health:  Physician Bias and Veterans' Pensions" by Shari Eli, University of Toronto     Paper Abstract: This is the first longitudinal analysis of the relationship between income and the black-white mortality gap in the late 19th and early 20th century US. Using records from cohorts of veterans, we estimate the effect of pension income on racial differences in longevity.  Since veterans received pensions based on proof of disability at medical exams, estimates of the causal effect of income on mortality may be biased as sicker veterans received larger pensions. To circumvent endogeneity bias, we propose an exogenous source of variation in income: the judgment of the doctors who certified disability. We find that doctors appear to discriminate against black veterans and that the effect of income on health was not large enough to close the black-white mortality gap in the period. Our work emphasizes the large effects of physicians' attitudes on racial differentials in health, which persist today amongst both veterans as well as regular citizens.