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Childhood economic conditions and length of life: Evidence from the UK Boyd Orr cohort, 1937-2005

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  • Frijters, Paul
  • Hatton, Timothy J.
  • Martin, Richard M.
  • Shields, Michael A.

Abstract

We study the importance of childhood socioeconomic conditions in predicting differences in life expectancy using data from a large sample of children collected in 16 locations in England and Scotland in 1937-39, who have been traced through official death records up to 2005. We estimate a number of duration of life models that control for unobserved family heterogeneity. Our results confirm that childhood conditions such as household income and the quality of the home environment are significant predictors of longevity. Importantly, however, the role of socioeconomic status appears to differ across cause of death, with household income being a significant predictor of death from smoking-related cancer. Moreover, we find that (1) poor housing conditions in childhood is associated with reduced longevity, that (2) early doctor-assessed childhood health conditions significantly predict a reduced length of life, that (3) children born in a location with relatively high infant mortality rates live significantly fewer years, and that (4) there is a high correlation in longevity across children from the same family across all causes of death. We estimate that the difference in life expectancy between those with the 'best' and 'worst' observable characteristics is about 9 years, which increases to 20 years when we take into account the 'best' and 'worst' observable and unobservable household characteristics.

Suggested Citation

  • Frijters, Paul & Hatton, Timothy J. & Martin, Richard M. & Shields, Michael A., 2010. "Childhood economic conditions and length of life: Evidence from the UK Boyd Orr cohort, 1937-2005," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 39-47, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:29:y:2010:i:1:p:39-47
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    1. Alison Booth & Hiau Kee, 2009. "Birth order matters: the effect of family size and birth order on educational attainment," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 22(2), pages 367-397, April.
    2. Jenifer Hamil-Luker & Angela O’rand, 2007. "Gender differences in the link between childhood socioeconomic conditions and heart attack risk in adulthood," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 44(1), pages 137-158, February.
    3. Carlos Bozzoli & Angus Deaton & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2007. "Child mortality, income and adult height," Working Papers 162, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
    4. Modin, Bitte, 2002. "Birth order and mortality: a life-long follow-up of 14,200 boys and girls born in early 20th century Sweden," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 54(7), pages 1051-1064, April.
    5. Case, Anne & Fertig, Angela & Paxson, Christina, 2005. "The lasting impact of childhood health and circumstance," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 365-389, March.
    6. Timothy J. Hatton & Roy >. Bailey, 2000. "Seebohm Rowntree and the postwar poverty puzzle," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 53(3), pages 517-543, August.
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Childhood Economic Conditions and Length of Life - Evidence from Boyd-Orr Cohort
      by Liam Delaney in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2010-08-11 02:51:00

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Pfeiffer, Friedhelm & Reuss, Karsten, 2013. "Improving Educational Investments: A Welfare Analysis for Europe," Regional and Sectoral Economic Studies, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 13(3), pages 77-94.
    2. Flèche, Sarah & Lekfuangfu, Warn & Clark, Andrew E., "undated". "The Long-Lasting Effects of Family and Childhood on Adult Wellbeing: Evidence from British Cohort Data," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 1803, CEPREMAP.
    3. Frijters, Paul & Johnston, David W. & Shields, Michael A., 2011. "Destined for (Un)Happiness: Does Childhood Predict Adult Life Satisfaction?," IZA Discussion Papers 5819, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Pfeiffer, Friedhelm, 2013. "On the Power of Childhood Impressions for Skill Formation: Initial Evidence and Unsettled Questions," IZA Discussion Papers 7217, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Gary Yeung & Gerard Berg & Maarten Lindeboom & France Portrait, 2014. "The impact of early-life economic conditionson cause-specific mortality during adulthood," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 27(3), pages 895-919, July.
    6. Martine Mariotti, 2015. "Fathers' Employment and Sons' Stature: The Long-Run Effects of a Positive Regional Employment Shock in South Africa's Mining Industry," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63(3), pages 485-514.
    7. Alan Fernihough & Mark McGovern, 2014. "Do fertility transitions influence infant mortality declines? Evidence from early modern Germany," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 27(4), pages 1145-1163, October.
    8. Martine Mariotti, 2012. "Living Standards In South Africa's Former Homelands," CEH Discussion Papers 003, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
    9. Thompson, Owen, 2011. "Racial disparities in the cognition-health relationship," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 328-339, March.
    10. Brandt, Martina & Deindl, Christian & Hank, Karsten, 2012. "Tracing the origins of successful aging: The role of childhood conditions and social inequality in explaining later life health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(9), pages 1418-1425.
    11. Paul Frijters & David W. Johnston & Michael A. Shields, 2014. "Does Childhood Predict Adult Life Satisfaction? Evidence from British Cohort Surveys," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(580), pages 688-719, November.
    12. Powdthavee, Nattavudh & Stutzer, Alois, 2014. "Economic Approaches to Understanding Change in Happiness," IZA Discussion Papers 8131, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Lo, Te-Fen & Hsieh, Chee-Ruey, 2013. "Dynamic profile of health investment and the evolution of elderly health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 134-142.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Childhood Socioeconomic characteristics Length of life Duration models;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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