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The Longevity of Famous People from Hammurabi to Einstein

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  • Omar Licandro

    (IAE-CSIC and Barcelona GSE)

  • David de la Croix

    (Univ cath Louvain)

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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2013 Meeting Papers with number 46.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed013:46

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References

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  1. Cervellati, Matteo & Sunde, Uwe, 2007. "Human Capital, Mortality and Fertility: A Unified Theory of the Economic and Demographic Transition," CEPR Discussion Papers 6384, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. 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.
  3. Omar Licandro & David de la Croix, 2009. "The Child is Father of the Man: Implications for the Demographic Transition," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 765.09, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  4. Nancy Qian & Nathan Nunn, 2010. "The Potato’s Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence from an Historical Experiment," Working Papers id:2792, eSocialSciences.
  5. Raouf BOUCEKKINE & David de la Croix & Omar LICANDRO, 2002. "Early mortality declines at the dawn of modern growth," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2002014, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  6. DE LA CROIX, David & LINDH, Thomas & MALMBERG, Bo, . "Swedish economic growth and education since 1800," CORE Discussion Papers RP -2063, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  7. Rodrigo R. Soares, 2004. "Mortality Reductions, Educational Attainment, and Fertility Choice," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 9, Econometric Society.
  8. Gregory Clark, 2007. "Introduction to A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World
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  9. Holger Strulik & Sebastian Vollmer, 2011. "Long-Run Trends of Human Aging and Longevity," PGDA Working Papers 7311, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
  10. Raouf Boucekkine & David de la Croix & Omar Licandro, . "vintage human capital, demographic trends and endogenous growth," Working Papers 2000-02, FEDEA.
  11. 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.
  12. John Wilmoth & Shiro Horiuchi, 1999. "Rectangularization revisited: Variability of age at death within human populations," Demography, Springer, vol. 36(4), pages 475-495, November.
  13. 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.
  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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Blog mentions

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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