a1 Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08854; and NBER. E-mail: email@example.com.
a2 Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056; and NBER. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enacted in 1922 and repealed in 1929, the Sheppard-Towner program gave federal matching money to states to provide public health education to mothers. We examine variation in state participation in the program, and find that the timing of women's suffrage had an important impact. However, we find that the effect of suffrage was short-lived and did not influence public health spending after the program's repeal. We also find no evidence of a “demonstration effect.” On average, the states that continued activities after Sheppard-Towner ended were those that had sizable public health budgets before the program had even begun.
We received excellent suggestions from seminar participants at the NBER Summer Institute, Carnegie-Mellon, Yale University, and the University of Michigan. Comments from two anonymous referees and the editor greatly improved the article. All errors remain our responsibility.