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Exogenous determinants of early-life conditions, and mortality later in life

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  • van den Berg, Gerard J.
  • Doblhammer, Gabriele
  • Christensen, Kaare

Abstract

We analyze causal effects of conditions early in life on the individual mortality rate later in life. Conditions early in life are captured by transitory features of the macro-environment around birth, notably the state of the business cycle around birth, but also food price deviations, weather indicators, and demographic indicators. We argue that these features can only affect high-age mortality by way of the individual early-life conditions. Moreover, they are exogenous from the individual point of view, which is a methodological advantage compared to the use of unique characteristics of the newborn individual or his or her family or household as early-life indicators. We collected national annual time-series data on the above-mentioned indicators, and we combine these to the individual data records from the Danish Twin Registry covering births in 1873-1906. The empirical analyses (mostly based on the estimation of duration models) indicate a significant negative causal effect of economic conditions early in life on individual mortality rates at higher ages. If the national economic performance in the year of birth exceeds its trend value (i.e., if the business cycle is favorable) then the mortality rate later in life is lower. The implied effect on the median lifetime of those who survive until age 35 is about 10 months. A systematic empirical exploration of all macro-indicators reveals that economic conditions in the first years after birth also affect mortality rates later in life.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

Volume (Year): 68 (2009)
Issue (Month): 9 (May)
Pages: 1591-1598

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Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:68:y:2009:i:9:p:1591-1598

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Keywords: Denmark Mortality Business cycle Recession Life expectancy Developmental origins Early-life conditions Life course;

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References

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  1. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Are Recessions Good For Your Health?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(2), pages 617-650, May.
  2. van den Berg, Gerard J. & Lindeboom, Maarten & López, Marta, 2006. "Inequality in Individual Mortality and Economic Conditions Earlier in Life," IZA Discussion Papers 2425, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. 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.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. van den Berg, G. J & Lundborg P & Nystedt P & Rooth D, 2009. "Critical Periods During Childhood and Adolescence: A Study of Adult Height Among Immigrant Siblings," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 09/20, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
  2. Mikko Myrskylä, 2010. "The effects of shocks in early life mortality on later life expectancy and mortality compression: A cohort analysis," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 22(12), pages 289-320, March.
  3. Mark E. McGovern, 2012. "Don't stress: early life conditions, hypertension and selection into associated risk factors," Working Papers 201223, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  4. 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).
  5. Yeung, Gary Y.C. & van den Berg, Gerard J. & Lindeboom, Maarten & Portrait, France, 2012. "The Impact of Early Life Economic Conditions on Cause-Specific Mortality During Adulthood," IZA Discussion Papers 6520, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Doblhammer, Gabriele & van den Berg, Gerard J. & Fritze, Thomas, 2011. "Economic Conditions at the Time of Birth and Cognitive Abilities Late in Life: Evidence from Eleven European Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 5940, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Wolfgang H. Reichmuth & Samad Sarferaz, 2008. "The Influence of the Business Cycle on Mortality," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2008-059, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
  8. Mierau & Angelini, 2012. "Social and Economic Aspects of Childhood Health: Evidence from Western-Europe," Research Report 12002-EEF, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
  9. Bruckner, Tim A. & van den Berg, Gerard J. & Smith, Kirk R. & Catalano, Ralph A., 2014. "Ambient Temperature During Gestation and Cold-Related Adult Mortality in a Swedish Cohort, 1915 to 2002," IZA Discussion Papers 7986, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Beck, Audrey N. & Finch, Brian K. & Lin, Shih-Fan & Hummer, Robert A. & Masters, Ryan K., 2014. "Racial disparities in self-rated health: Trends, explanatory factors, and the changing role of socio-demographics," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 163-177.

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