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The Longevity of Famous People from Hammurabi to Einstein

  • David de la Croix
  • Omar Licandro

We build a unique dataset of 300,000 famous people born between Hammurabi's epoch and 1879, Einstein's birth year. It includes, among other variables, the vital dates, occupations, and locations of celebrities from the Index Bio-bibliographicus Notorum Hominum (IBN), a very comprehensive biographical tool. Our main contribution is fourfold. First, we show, using for the first time a worldwide, long-running, consistent database, that mortality displays no trend during the Malthusian era. Second, after correcting for selection and composition biases, we date the beginning of the steadily improvements in longevity to the cohort born in 1640-9, clearly preceding the Industrial Revolution. Third, we find that this timing of longevity improvements concerns most countries in Europe, as well as all types of skilled occupations. Finally, the reasons for this early rise in mean lifetime have to be found in age-dependent shifts in the survival law.

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File URL: http://research.barcelonagse.eu/tmp/working_papers/666.pdf
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Paper provided by Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 666.

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Date of creation: Oct 2012
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Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:666
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  1. Raouf BOUCEKKINE & David DE LA CROIX & Omar LICANDRO, 2002. "Early Mortality Declines at the Dawn of Modern Growth," Economics Working Papers ECO2002/11, European University Institute.
  2. Cervellati, Matteo & Sunde, Uwe, 2007. "Human Capital, Mortality and Fertility: A Unified Theory of the Economic and Demographic Transition," CEPR Discussion Papers 6384, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. DE LA CROIX, David & LINDH, Thomas & MALMBERG, Bo, . "Swedish economic growth and education since 1800," CORE Discussion Papers RP -2063, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  4. Gregory Clark, 2007. "Introduction to A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World
    [A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World]
    ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
  5. Hoffman, Philip T. & Jacks, David S. & Levin, Patricia A. & Lindert, Peter H., 2002. "Real Inequality In Europe Since 1500," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(02), pages 322-355, June.
  6. Holger Strulik & Sebastian Vollmer, 2011. "Long-Run Trends of Human Aging and Longevity," PGDA Working Papers 7311, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
  7. A'Hearn, Brian & Baten, Jörg & Crayen, Dorothee, 2009. "Quantifying Quantitative Literacy: Age Heaping and the History of Human Capital," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(03), pages 783-808, September.
  8. Raouf Boucekkine & David de la Croix & Omar Licandro, . "vintage human capital, demographic trends and endogenous growth," Working Papers 2000-02, FEDEA.
  9. Rodrigo R. Soares, 2003. "Mortality Reductions, Educational Attainment, and Fertility Choice," Development and Comp Systems 0312006, EconWPA.
  10. Fogel, Robert W, 1994. "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 369-95, June.
  11. Omar Licandro & David de la Croix, 2009. "The Child is Father of the Man: Implications for the Demographic Transition," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 765.09, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  12. Tine De Moor & Jaco Zuijderduijn, 2011. "The Art of Counting - Reconstructing numeracy in the middle and upper classes on the basis of portraits in the early modern Low Countries," Working Papers 0016, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
  13. Michael Bar & Oksana Leukhina, 2009. "The Role of Mortality in the Transmission of Knowledge," DEGIT Conference Papers c014_021, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  14. John Wilmoth & Shiro Horiuchi, 1999. "Rectangularization revisited: Variability of age at death within human populations," Demography, Springer, vol. 36(4), pages 475-495, November.
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