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The longevity of famous people from Hammurabi to Einstein

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  • DE LA CROIX, David

    ()
    (Université catholique de Louvain, CORE and IRES, B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium)

  • LICANDRO, Omar

    (IAE-CSIC and Barcelona GSE)

Abstract

We built a unique dataset of 300,000 famous people born between Hammurabi's epoch and 1879, Einstein's birth year. It includes, among other variables, the vital dates, occupations, and locations of celebrities from the Index Bio-bibliographicus Notorum Hominum (IBN), a very comprehensive biographical tool. Our main contribution is fourfold. First, we show, using for the first time a worldwide, long-running, consistent database, that there was no trend in mortality rates during the Malthusian era. Second, after correcting for selection and composition biases, we date the beginning of the steady improvements in longevity to the cohort born in 1640-9, clearly preceding the Industrial Revolution. Third, we find that this timing of improvements in longevity concerns most countries in Europe, as well as all types of skilled occupations. Finally, the reasons for this early increase in mean lifetime are related to age-dependent shifts in the survival law.

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Paper provided by Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) in its series CORE Discussion Papers with number 2012052.

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Date of creation: 21 Dec 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cor:louvco:2012052

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Keywords: longevity; notoriety; Malthus; Gompertz-Makeham; compensation effect of mortality;

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  1. Cervellati, Matteo & Sunde, Uwe, 2007. "Human Capital, Mortality and Fertility: A Unified Theory of the Economic and Demographic Transition," IZA Discussion Papers 2905, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. de la Croix, David & Licandro, Omar, 2007. "‘The Child is Father of the Man:’ Implications for the Demographic Transition," CEPR Discussion Papers 6493, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Holger Strulik & Sebastian Vollmer, 2011. "Long-Run Trends of Human Aging and Longevity," PGDA Working Papers 7311, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
  4. Rodrigo R. Soares, 2003. "Mortality Reductions, Educational Attainment, and Fertility Choice," Development and Comp Systems 0312006, EconWPA.
  5. BOUCEKKINE, Raouf & DE LA CROIX, David & LICANDRO, Omar, . "Early mortality declines at the dawn of modern growth," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1681, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  6. Boucekkine, Raouf & de la Croix, David & Licandro, Omar, 2000. "Vintage Human Capital, Demographic Trends and Endogenous Growth," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2000007, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  7. Nunn, Nathan & Qian, Nancy, 2009. "The Potato's Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence from an Historical Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 7364, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Fogel, Robert W, 1994. "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 369-95, June.
  9. John Wilmoth & Shiro Horiuchi, 1999. "Rectangularization revisited: Variability of age at death within human populations," Demography, Springer, vol. 36(4), pages 475-495, November.
  10. Michael Bar & Oksana Leukhina, 2009. "The Role of Mortality in the Transmission of Knowledge," DEGIT Conference Papers c014_021, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  11. Hoffman, Philip T. & Jacks, David S. & Levin, Patricia A. & Lindert, Peter H., 2002. "Real Inequality In Europe Since 1500," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(02), pages 322-355, June.
  12. David de la Croix & Thomas Lindh & Bo Malmberg, 2008. "Swedish economic growth and education since 1800," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 41(1), pages 166-185, February.
  13. Gregory Clark, 2007. "Introduction to A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World
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  14. Tine De Moor & Jaco Zuijderduijn, 2011. "The Art of Counting - Reconstructing numeracy in the middle and upper classes on the basis of portraits in the early modern Low Countries," Working Papers 0016, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
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As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Longevity increased much before the Industrial Revolution
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2012-12-05 14:36:00
  2. Monday miscellany
    by Brett in Brett Keller on 2012-12-10 06:48:34
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Cited by:
  1. Mara P. Squicciarini & Nico Voigtländer, 2014. "Human Capital and Industrialization: Evidence from the Age of Enlightenment," NBER Working Papers 20219, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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