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Life Expectancy and Human Capital Investments: Evidence from Maternal Mortality Declines

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  • Seema Jayachandran
  • Adriana Lleras-Muney

Abstract

Theory suggests that longer life expectancy encourages educational investment because a longer time horizon increases the value of investments that pay out over time. To estimate the magnitude of this effect, we examine a sudden drop in maternal mortality in Sri Lanka between 1946 and 1953, which sharply increased the life expectancy of girls. We assess whether girls' education relative to boys' increases more in areas with larger maternal mortality declines. We find that for every extra year of life expectancy, literacy increases by 0.7 percentage points (2%) and years of education increase by 0.11 years (3%).

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:124:y:2009:i:1:p:349-397.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1162/qjec.2009.124.1.349
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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