Northwestern Events Calendar


Exposure to Waterborne Lead in Early Life and Later Life Income, Educational Attainment, and Cognitive Decline

Public health seminar series

When: Thursday, February 15, 2024
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM CT

Where: Robert H Lurie Medical Research Center, Baldwin, 303 E. Superior, Chicago, IL 60611 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free

Contact: IPHAM  

Group: Institute for Public Health and Medicine (IPHAM)

Category: Lectures & Meetings


**This seminar is offered as a HYBRID event: join us IN-PERSON or ONLINE. Please RSVP regardless and indicate your intended mode. The in-person event will be held in Baldwin Auditorium of the Lurie Medical Research Building at 303 E. Superior; Chicago. Lunch will be provided for in person attendees on a first-come, first-served basis.**

The deleterious contemporaneous effects of lead exposure on cognitively-sensitive outcomes are well documented: children exposed to lead have lower IQ scores, greater impulsivity, and slower educational progress than unexposed children. But we know far less about the effect of this early life exposure on outcomes that occur later in the life course. This is because we generally lack both (1) prospective data that follows individuals through the entire life course from exposure to later life outcomes, as such studies are prohibitively expensive and time consuming; and (2) retrospective data that connects currently-observed individuals back to their early-life exposure – how could survey respondents know how much lead they were exposed to before age five? This talk describes recent work that connects survey and administrative data sources (the U.S. Census of Population and U.S. Army enlistment records 1941-46) to new data on waterborne lead exposure for each city/town in the U.S. and shows the effects of exposure under age 5 on adult income, educational attainment, and IQ for individuals born in the U.S. between 1895 and 1925. It also shows how this approach can be used to generate whole-population data for U.S. cohorts born 1940-1980 that can be followed to their extinction.

Joseph Ferrie, PhD
Professor of Economics
Northwestern University

This webinar hosted by the Institute for Public Health and Medicine (IPHAM) at Northwestern University. For more public health news, events, and announcements, visit the IPHAM website:

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