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Limited Life Expectancy, Human Capital and Health Investments

Listed author(s):
  • Emily Oster
  • Ira Shoulson
  • E. Ray Dorsey

Human capital theory predicts that life expectancy will impact human capital attainment. We estimate this relationship using variation in life expectancy driven by Huntington disease, an inherited neurological disorder. We compare investments for individuals who have ex-ante identical risks of HD but differ in disease realization. Individuals with the HD mutation complete less education and job training. The elasticity of demand for college attendance with respect to life expectancy is around 1.0. We relate this to cross-country and over-time differences in education. We use smoking and cancer screening data to test the corollary that health capital responds to life expectancy.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 103 (2013)
Issue (Month): 5 (August)
Pages: 1977-2002

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:103:y:2013:i:5:p:1977-2002
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.5.1977
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References listed on IDEAS
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  1. Shankha Chakraborty, 2002. "Endogenous Lifetime and Economic Growth," University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers 2002-03, University of Oregon Economics Department, revised 26 Jan 2002.
  2. Hazan, Moshe, 2011. "Life Expectancy and Schooling: New Insights from Cross-Country Data," CEPR Discussion Papers 8524, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Moshe Hazan & Hosny Zoabi, 2006. "Does longevity cause growth? A theoretical critique," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 363-376, December.
  4. Moshe Hazan, 2012. "Life expectancy and schooling: new insights from cross-country data," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 25(4), pages 1237-1248, October.
  5. Oster, Emily, 2012. "HIV and sexual behavior change: Why not Africa?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 35-49.
  6. Edward Miguel & Michael Kremer, 2004. "Worms: Identifying Impacts on Education and Health in the Presence of Treatment Externalities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 159-217, 01.
  7. Rodrigo R. Soares, 2005. "Mortality Reductions, Educational Attainment, and Fertility Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 580-601, June.
  8. Xavier Sala-I-Martin, 1997. "Transfers, Social Safety Nets, and Economic Growth," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 44(1), pages 81-102, March.
  9. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson, 2007. "Disease and Development: The Effect of Life Expectancy on Economic Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(6), pages 925-985, December.
  10. Seema Jayachandran & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2009. "Life Expectancy and Human Capital Investments: Evidence from Maternal Mortality Declines," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(1), pages 349-397.
  11. Alwyn Young, 2005. "The Gift of the Dying: The Tragedy of AIDS and the Welfare of Future African Generations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 423-466.
  12. Robert J. Barro, 2012. "Inflation and Economic Growth," CEMA Working Papers 568, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  13. Jane G Fortson, 2011. "Mortality Risk and Human Capital Investment: The Impact of HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(1), pages 1-15, February.
  14. Jane G. Fortson, 2011. "Mortality Risk and Human Capital Investment: The Impact of HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 4fed8158611247e99f2fc838e, Mathematica Policy Research.
  15. anonymous, 1995. "Does the bouncing ball lead to economic growth?," Regional Update, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Jul, pages 1-2,4-6.
  16. Moshe Hazan, 2009. "Longevity and Lifetime Labor Supply: Evidence and Implications," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(6), pages 1829-1863, November.
  17. Rodrigo Soares, 2006. "The effect of longevity on schooling and fertility: evidence from the Brazilian Demographic and Health Survey," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 19(1), pages 71-97, February.
  18. Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, 2002. "Does the Mortality Decline Promote Economic Growth?," Macroeconomics 0212008, EconWPA.
  19. Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352-352.
  20. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-255, March-Apr.
  21. Bloom, David E. & Canning, David & Sevilla, Jaypee, 2004. "The Effect of Health on Economic Growth: A Production Function Approach," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 1-13, January.
  22. repec:mpr:mprres:6928 is not listed on IDEAS
  23. Karen N. Eggleston & Victor R. Fuchs, 2012. "The New Demographic Transition: Most Gains in Life Expectancy Now Realized Late in Life," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 137-156, Summer.
  24. Hoyt Bleakley, 2007. "Disease and Development: Evidence from Hookworm Eradication in the American South," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 73-117.
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