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The lasting damage to mortality of early-life adversity: evidence from the English famine of the late 1720s


  • Marc Klemp
  • Jacob Weisdorf


This paper explores the long-term impact on mortality of exposure to hardship in early-life. Using survival analysis, we demonstrate that birth during the great English famine of the late 1720s entailed an increased death risk throughout life among those who survived the famine years. Using demographic data from the Cambridge Group's Population History of England, we find the death risk at age 10 among the most exposed group—children born to English Midlands families of a lower socioeconomic rank—is up to 66 percent higher than that of the control group (children of similar background born in the 5 years following the famine). This corresponds to a loss of life expectancy of more than 12 years. However, evidence does not suggest that children born in the 5 years prior to the famine suffered increased death risk. Copyright , Oxford University Press.

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  • Marc Klemp & Jacob Weisdorf, 2012. "The lasting damage to mortality of early-life adversity: evidence from the English famine of the late 1720s," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(3), pages 233-246, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ereveh:v:16:y:2012:i:3:p:233-246

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    Cited by:

    1. van den Berg, Gerard J. & Pinger, Pia R., 2016. "Transgenerational effects of childhood conditions on third generation health and education outcomes," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 103-120.
    2. Cinnirella, Francesco & Klemp, Marc P B & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2012. "Malthus in the Bedroom: Birth Spacing as a Preventive Check Mechanism in Pre-Modern England," CEPR Discussion Papers 9116, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Agénor, Pierre-Richard & Canuto, Otaviano & da Silva, Luiz Pereira, 2014. "On gender and growth: The role of intergenerational health externalities and women's occupational constraints," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 132-147.
    4. Sharp, Paul & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2013. "Globalization revisited: Market integration and the wheat trade between North America and Britain from the eighteenth century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 88-98.

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