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Disease and Development: The Effect of Life Expectancy on Economic Growth

  • Daron Acemoglu
  • Simon Johnson

We exploit the major international health improvements from the 1940s to estimate the effect of life expectancy on economic performance. We construct predicted mortality using preintervention mortality rates from various diseases and dates of global interventions. Predicted mortality has a large impact on changes in life expectancy starting in 1940 but no effect before 1940. Using predicted mortality as an instrument, we find that a 1 percent increase in life expectancy leads to a 1.7-2 percent increase in population. Life expectancy has a much smaller effect on total GDP, however. Consequently, there is no evidence that the large increase in life expectancy raised income per capita. (c) 2007 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved..

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 115 (2007)
Issue (Month): 6 (December)
Pages: 925-985

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:115:y:2007:i:6:p:925-985
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JPE/

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  1. T. Paul Schultz, 2002. "Wage Gains Associated with Height as a Form of Health Human Capital," Working Papers 841, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  2. C Arndt & J D Lewis, 2000. "The Macro Implications of HIV/AIDS in South Africa: A Preliminary Assessment," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 68(5), pages 380-392, December.
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  8. Angus Deaton, 2004. "Health in an age of globalization," Working Papers 245, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
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  12. Clive Bell & Shantayanan Devarajan & Hans Gersbach, 2003. "The long-run economic costs of AIDS : theory and an application to South Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3152, The World Bank.
  13. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2004. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1019-1053, October.
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  18. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521004886 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Schultz, T Paul, 1993. "Mortality Decline in the Low-Income World: Causes and Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 337-42, May.
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  21. Anderson, T. W. & Hsiao, Cheng, 1982. "Formulation and estimation of dynamic models using panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 47-82, January.
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  27. Felicia Marie Knaul & Edmundo Murrugarra & Carlos Hernández Alvarez & Rafael Cortez & William D. Savedoff & Jaime Espinosa Ferrando & Rocío Ribero Medina & Martín Valdivia & T. Paul Schultz & Jairo Nú, 2000. "Wealth from Health: Linking Social Investments to Earnings in Latin America," IDB Publications (Books), Inter-American Development Bank, number 42218 edited by William D. Savedoff & T. Paul Schultz, march.
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