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

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  • Gerard J. van den Berg
  • Gabriele Doblhammer-Reiter

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Kaare Christensen

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 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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File URL: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/papers/working/wp-2008-016.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its series MPIDR Working Papers with number WP-2008-016.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2008-016

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Web page: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/

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  1. 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.
  2. van den Berg, Gerard J. & Lindeboom, Maarten & Lopez, Marta, 2009. "Inequality in individual mortality and economic conditions earlier in life," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(9), pages 1360-1367, November.
  3. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Are Recessions Good For Your Health?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(2), pages 617-650, May.
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Cited by:
  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. Angelini, V.; & Mierau, J.O.;, 2012. "Childhood Health and the Business Cycle: Evidence from Western Europe," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 12/28, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
  4. 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," Working Paper Series 2011:14, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  5. 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.
  6. van den Berg, Gerard J. & Lundborg, Petter & Nystedt, Paul & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2009. "Critical Periods During Childhood and Adolescence: A Study of Adult Height Among Immigrant Siblings," IZA Discussion Papers 4140, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. 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).
  8. 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.
  9. Mark E McGovern, 2012. "Don't Stress: Early Life Conditions, Hypertension, and Selection into Associated Risk Factors," Working Papers 201227, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
  10. 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).

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