Fluoridation of the drinking water is a public policy whose aim is to improve dental health. Although the evidence is clear that fluoride is good for dental health, concerns have been raised regarding potential negative effects on cognitive development. We study the effects of fluoride exposure through the drinking water throughout life on cognitive and non-cognitive ability, math test scores and labor market outcomes in a large-scale setting. We use a rich Swedish register data set for the cohorts born 1985–1992 in the main analysis, together with drinking water fluoride data. To estimate the effects, we exploit intra-municipality variation of fluoride, stemming from an exogenous variation in the bedrock. Taking all together, we investigate and confirm the long-established positive relationship between fluoride and dental health. Second, we find precisely estimated zero-effects on cognitive ability, non-cognitive ability and math test scores for fluoride levels in Swedish drinking water. Third, we find that fluoride improves later labor market outcomes, which indicates that good dental health is a positive factor on the labor market.
This study documents the relationships between cognitive and non-cognitive abilities and mortality, using a population-wide dataset of almost 700,000 Swedish men born between 1951 and 1969. The abilities were measured at the military enlistment between age 18-20. Income and education are investigated as potential mediators. The results suggest that both cognitive and non-cognitive ability are strongly correlated with early mortality. The correlations are stronger for non-cognitive ability. These correlations are only partly mediated through income and education. The correlations are driven by individuals with low income or lacking high education.
Health Information and Well-Being: Evidence from an Asymptomatic Disease
With Matz Dahlberg, Kevin Mani and Anders Wanhainen
We examine how health information affects individuals’ well-being using a regression discontinuity design on data from a screening program for an asymptomatic disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). The information provided to the individuals is guided by the measured aorta size and its relation to pre-determined levels. When comparing individuals that receive information that they are healthy with those that receive information that they are in the risk zone for AAA, we find no effects. However, when comparing those that receive information that they have a small AAA, and will be under increased surveillance, with those who receive information that they are in the risk zone, we find a weak positive effect on well-being. This indicates that the positive information about increased surveillance may outweigh the negative information about worse health.
Work in progress
I estimate the effect of SSRI antidepressants on the risk of mortality for myocardial infarction (MI) patients using Propensity Score Matching on individual health variables such as pharmaceutical drug prescription, patient history and severity of the MI. The effect of antidepressants on mortality is a heavily debated topic. MI patients have an elevated risk of developing depression, and antidepressants are among the most common treatments for depression and anxiety. However, there are indications that some classes of antidepressants may have drug-induced cardiovascular effects and could be harmful for individuals with heart problems, but there is a lack of large-scale studies using credible identification strategies. My findings indicate no increased risk of two-year mortality for MI patients using SSRI. The results are stable for several specifications and robustness checks.