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Project Proposal

Measles Vaccination in Childhood: The Impact on Human Capital Development and Health Status

Alicia Atwood (Economics)

Project Description

Illness in childhood can adversely impact human capital accumulation and labor market outcomes. Prior to the approval of the measles vaccination in the United States in 1963, 95-percent of individuals in the United States contracted measles before the age of 16. Measles causes immune amnesia, meaning individuals are more susceptible to all illnesses in the years after contracting the measles. Therfore, children that receive the measles vaccine have a healthier childhood than if they did not receive the vaccine. My previous US based research finds that long-term follow up of adults indicates an increase in income of 1.3-percent for adults that coincides with exposure to the measles vaccine. This increase in income is not from an increase in hours worked, but rather from greater productivity. I seek to replicate these results in other settings. My Ford Scholar project this summer will involve findings and gathering data on historical measles vaccination policies and uptake at the time the measles vaccine was licensed for use (1963) for other countries (i.e., England, Wales, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Canada, South Africa, etc.). Once we have an understanding of other nations vaccination policy and the data that exists for vaccine uptake, we will move onto finding and linking this data with adult outcomes (i.e., income, health status, and educational attainment). After data linkage we will then set up and run causal models to quantify the human capital impact of the measles vaccination.

Research measles vaccination policy and distribution in a number of nations. This will include identifying the national and regional vaccination policies and then finding data on how many, where, and at what time vaccinations were administered. The student will create this data set.

Identify secondary data sources that contain adult outcomes that can be linked to vaccination policies in each country.

Anticipated Project Activities

  • Clean the data on measles vaccinations and adult outcomes and link the two data sources.
  • Describe the merged data in figures and tables.
  • Estimate causal models for the impact of measles vaccination.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

  • A willingness to question
  • Stata will be used for this project—I have a presence for someone with some pre-existing programing ability (R, stata, SAS, python, etc.) but it not required 
  • Strong attention to detail

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

Throughout the summer the Economics Department hosts a weekly Brown Bag Seminar for summer students. They are each expected to present during the seminar on their project. This is done to foster community, provide support for each other, and gain insight and hands on experience in the full research process. Faculty participate in the seminar as well.

I would like those that work on my project to come and speak about their experience to my ECON 102 course to show to an intro class some of the real world policy evaluation work that economists are doing.

If we get to the point of producing causal estates this summer the student(s) will be asked if they would like to be co-authors on the eventual paper that will result form this preliminary work. This could also mean presenting the work at a conference in the future."

Project Location

Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY—This project can accommodate in-person, full remote, or hybrid. I am willing to work in whichever way fits the public health needs of the community and the student's preference. I feel this flexibility on my part will allow for a wider and more inclusive applicant pool.

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 7, 2021

Project End Date

July 30, 2021