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Long-run effects on longevity of a nutritional shock early in life: The Dutch Potato famine of 1846-1847

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  • Lindeboom, Maarten
  • Portrait, France
  • van den Berg, Gerard J.

Abstract

Nutritional conditions in utero and during infancy may causally affect health and mortality during childhood, adulthood, and at old ages. This paper investigates whether exposure to a nutritional shock in early life negatively affects survival at older ages, using individual data. Nutritional conditions are captured by exposure to the Potato famine in the Netherlands in 1846-1847, and by regional and temporal variation in market prices of potato and rye. The data cover the lifetimes of a random sample of Dutch individuals born between 1812 and 1902 and provide individual information on life events and demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. First we non-parametrically compare the total and residual lifetimes of individuals exposed and not exposed to the famine in utero and/or until age 1. Next, we estimate survival models in which we control for individual characteristics and additional (early life) determinants of mortality. We find strong evidence for long-run effects of exposure to the Potato famine. The results are stronger for boys than for girls. Boys and girls lose on average 4, respectively 2.5 years of life after age 50 after exposure at birth to the Potato famine. Lower social classes appear to be more affected by early life exposure to the Potato famine than higher social classes. These results confirm the mechanism linking early life (nutritional) conditions to old-age mortality. Finally, higher food prices at birth appear to reduce later life mortality of children of farmers from higher social classes. We interpret this as an income effect.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 29 (2010)
Issue (Month): 5 (September)
Pages: 617-629

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:29:y:2010:i:5:p:617-629

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560

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Keywords: Nutrition in early life Famine Longevity Natural experiments Survival analysis;

References

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  1. Jacobs, Jan & Tassenaar, Vincent, 2004. "Height, income, and nutrition in the Netherlands: the second half of the 19th century," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 181-195, June.
  2. Meng, Xin & Qian, Nancy, 2006. "The Long Run Health and Economic Consequences of Famine on Survivors: Evidence from China’s Great Famine," IZA Discussion Papers 2471, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Dora L. Costa, 2000. "Understanding Mid-Life and Older Age Mortality Declines: Evidence from Union Army Veterans," NBER Working Papers 8000, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Cormac Ó Gráda, 2006. "Making Famine History," Working Papers 200610, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
  5. Karen Clay & Werner Troesken, 2006. "Deprivation and Disease in Early Twentieth-Century America," NBER Working Papers 12111, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Chen, Yuyu & Zhou, Li-An, 2007. "The long-term health and economic consequences of the 1959-1961 famine in China," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 659-681, July.
  7. Carlos Bozzoli & Angus Deaton & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2008. "Adult height and childhood disease," Working Papers 1119, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  8. Gerard J. van den Berg & Maarten Lindeboom & France Portrait, 2006. "Economic Conditions Early in Life and Individual Mortality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 290-302, March.
  9. Wintle,Michael, 2000. "An Economic and Social History of the Netherlands, 1800–1920," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521782951.
  10. Jan Luiten van Zanden & Arthur van Riel, 2004. "Introduction to The Strictures of Inheritance: The Dutch Economy in the Nineteenth Century
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. van den Berg, Gerard J. & Pinger, Pia, 2014. "A Validation Study of Transgenerational Effects of Childhood Conditions on the Third Generation Offspring's Economic and Health Outcomes Potentially Driven by Epigenetic Imprinting," IZA Discussion Papers 7999, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Hendrik Jürges, 2012. "Collateral damage: Educational attainment and labor market outcomes among German war and post-war cohorts," Schumpeter Discussion Papers sdp12003, Universitätsbibliothek Wuppertal, University Library.
  3. Goulão, Catarina & Pérez-Barahona, Agustín, 2011. "Intergenerational transmission of non-communicable chronic diseases," TSE Working Papers 11-219, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  4. Jürges, Hendrik, 2013. "Collateral damage: The German food crisis, educational attainment and labor market outcomes of German post-war cohorts," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 286-303.
  5. Doblhammer, Gabriele & van den Berg, Gerard J. & Lumey, Lambert H., 2011. "Long-term Effects of Famine on Life Expectancy: A Re-analysis of the Great Finnish Famine of 1866-1868," IZA Discussion Papers 5534, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Bejenariu, Simona & Mitrut, Andreea, 2012. "Austerity Measures and Infant Health. Lessons from an Unexpected Wage Cut Policy," Working Paper Series, Center for Labor Studies 2012:5, Uppsala University, Department of Economics, revised 10 Oct 2013.
  7. Gary Yeung & Gerard Berg & Maarten Lindeboom & France Portrait, 2014. "The impact of early-life economic conditionson cause-specific mortality during adulthood," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 895-919, July.
  8. Hernández-Julián, Rey & Mansour, Hani & Peters, Christina, 2013. "The Effects of Intrauterine Malnutrition on Birth and Fertility Outcomes: Evidence from the 1974 Bangladesh Famine," IZA Discussion Papers 7692, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Emla Fitzsimons & Bansi Malde & Alice Mesnard & Marcos Vera-Hernandez, 2014. "Nutrition, information, and household behaviour: experimental evidence from Malawi," IFS Working Papers W14/02, Institute for Fiscal Studies.

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