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Disease and development: The role of life expectancy reconsidered


  • Cervellati, Matteo
  • Sunde, Uwe


This note estimates the causal effect of life expectancy on per capita income and tests the hypothesis of a non-monotonic effect using finite mixture models. The results confirm the hypothesis and qualify recent evidence for a negative effect by Acemoglu and Johnson (2007).

Suggested Citation

  • Cervellati, Matteo & Sunde, Uwe, 2011. "Disease and development: The role of life expectancy reconsidered," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 113(3), pages 269-272.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:113:y:2011:i:3:p:269-272 DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2011.08.008

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Matteo Cervellati & Uwe Sunde, 2011. "Life expectancy and economic growth: the role of the demographic transition," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 99-133, June.
    2. Ann Owen & Julio Videras & Lewis Davis, 2009. "Do all countries follow the same growth process?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 265-286, December.
    3. 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.
    4. Kalemli-Ozcan, Sebnem, 2002. "Does the Mortality Decline Promote Economic Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 411-439, December.
    5. Rodrigo R. Soares, 2005. "Mortality Reductions, Educational Attainment, and Fertility Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 580-601, June.
    6. Peter Lorentzen & John McMillan & Romain Wacziarg, 2008. "Death and development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 81-124, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Zakir Husain & Mousumi Dutta & Nidhi Chowdhary, 2014. "Is Health Wealth? Results of a Panel Data Analysis," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 117(1), pages 121-143, May.
    2. Hansen, Casper Worm, 2014. "Cause of death and development in the US," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 143-153.
    3. Matteo Cervellati & Uwe Sunde & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2017. "Demographic dynamics and long-run development: insights for the secular stagnation debate," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 30(2), pages 401-432, April.
    4. Thomas K.J. McDermott, 2013. "Reconciling conflicting evidence on the origins of comparative development: A finite mixture model approach," GRI Working Papers 130, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    5. Esposito, Elena, 2015. "Side Effects of Immunities: the African Slave Trade," Economics Working Papers MWP2015/09, European University Institute.
    6. Casper Worm Hansen & Lars L√łnstrup, 2015. "The Rise in Life Expectancy and Economic Growth in the 20th Century," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0(584), pages 838-852, May.
    7. Casper Worm Hansen, 2012. "Causes of mortality and development: Evidence from large health shocks in 20th century America," Economics Working Papers 2012-29, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    8. Casper Worm Hansen & Holger Strulik, 2017. "Life expectancy and education: evidence from the cardiovascular revolution," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 421-450, December.
    9. Keiya Minamimura & Daishin Yasui, 2016. "From Physical to Human Capital Accumulation: Effects of Mortality Changes," Discussion Papers 1614, Graduate School of Economics, Kobe University.
    10. Hansen, Casper Worm, 2013. "Life expectancy and human capital: Evidence from the international epidemiological transition," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1142-1152.

    More about this item


    Life expectancy; Demographic transition; Epidemiological revolution; Heterogeneous treatment effects; Finite mixture models;

    JEL classification:

    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • E10 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - General


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