Yesterday's post was also historical ("MONKS, GENTS AND INDUSTRIALISTS: THE LONG-RUN IMPACT OF THE DISSOLUTION OF THE ENGLISH MONASTERIES"). That post had links to about a dozen other historical posts, including one about how tea drinking saved lives.
We investigate the impact of beer on mortality during the Industrial Revolution. Due to the brewing process, beer represented an improvement over available water sources during this period prior to the widespread understanding of the link between water quality and human health. Using a wide range of identification strategies to derive measures of beer scarcity driven by tax increases, weather events, and soil quality, we show that beer scarcity was associated with higher mortality, especially in the summer months where mortality was more likely to be driven by water-borne illnesses. We also leverage variation in inherent water quality across parishes using two proxies for water quality to show that beer scarcity resulted in greater deaths in areas with worse water quality. Together, the evidence supports the hypothesis that beer had a major impact on human health during this important period in economic development."