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Limited Life Expectancy, Human Capital and Health Investments

  • 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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