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The longevity of famous people from Hammurabi to Einstein

  • DE LA CROIX, David

    ()

    (Université catholique de Louvain, CORE and IRES, B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium)

  • LICANDRO, Omar

    (IAE-CSIC and Barcelona GSE)

We built 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 there was no trend in mortality rates during the Malthusian era. Second, after correcting for selection and composition biases, we date the beginning of the steady improvements in longevity to the cohort born in 1640-9, clearly preceding the Industrial Revolution. Third, we find that this timing of improvements in longevity concerns most countries in Europe, as well as all types of skilled occupations. Finally, the reasons for this early increase in mean lifetime are related to age-dependent shifts in the survival law.

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File URL: http://uclouvain.be/cps/ucl/doc/core/documents/coredp2012_52web.pdf
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Paper provided by Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) in its series CORE Discussion Papers with number 2012052.

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Date of creation: 21 Dec 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cor:louvco:2012052
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  1. Omar Licandro & David de la Croix, 2008. "The Child is Father of the Man: Implications for the Demographic Transition," 2008 Meeting Papers 186, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Fogel, Robert W., 1993. "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 1993-1, Nobel Prize Committee.
  3. Raouf Boucekkine & David de la Croix & Omar Licandro, 2003. "Early Mortality Declines at the Dawn of Modern Growth," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 105(3), pages 401-418, 09.
  4. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2002. "Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1133-1191.
  5. Rodrigo R. Soares, 2003. "Mortality Reductions, Educational Attainment, and Fertility Choice," Development and Comp Systems 0312006, EconWPA.
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  7. Raouf Boucekkine & David de la Croix & Omar Licandro, . "vintage human capital, demographic trends and endogenous growth," Working Papers 2000-02, FEDEA.
  8. Mokyr, Joel, 2005. "The Intellectual Origins of Modern Economic Growth," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(02), pages 285-351, June.
  9. 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.
  10. Mara P. Squicciarini & Nico Voigtländer, 2014. "Human Capital and Industrialization: Evidence from the Age of Enlightenment," NBER Working Papers 20219, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. Oksana Leukhina & Michael Bar, 2010. "The Role of Mortality in the Transmission of Knowledge," 2010 Meeting Papers 1256, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  13. David de la Croix & Thomas Lindh & Bo Malmberg, 2008. "Swedish economic growth and education since 1800," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 41(1), pages 166-185, February.
  14. Cutler, David & Lleras-Muney, Adriana & Deaton, Angus, 2006. "The Determinants of Mortality," Scholarly Articles 2640588, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  15. A'Hearn, Brian & Baten, Jörg & Crayen, Dorothee, 2009. "Quantifying Quantitative Literacy: Age Heaping and the History of Human Capital," CEPR Discussion Papers 7277, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Nunn, Nathan & Qian, Nancy, 2009. "The Potato's Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence from an Historical Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 7364, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Neil Cummins, 2014. "Longevity and the Rise of the West: Lifespans of the European Elite, 800-1800," Working Papers 0064, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
  18. Frans van Poppel & Dirk J. van de Kaa & Govert E. Bijwaard, 2013. "Life expectancy of artists in the Low Countries from the fifteenth to the twentieth century," Population Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 67(3), pages 275-292, November.
  19. Galor, Oded & Weil, David, 1999. "From Malthusian Stagnation to Modern Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 2082, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. John Wilmoth & Shiro Horiuchi, 1999. "Rectangularization revisited: Variability of age at death within human populations," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 36(4), pages 475-495, November.
  21. David de la Croix & Omar Licandro, 2008. "The Child is Father of the Man: by Implications for the Demographic Transition," Working Papers 2008-04, FEDEA.
  22. 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.
  23. Gregory Clark, 2007. "Introduction to A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World
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  24. 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.
  25. repec:gdm:wpaper:7311 is not listed on IDEAS
  26. repec:cai:poeine:pope_1004_0631 is not listed on IDEAS
  27. repec:cai:popine:popu_p1977_32n1_0352 is not listed on IDEAS
  28. Holger Strulik & Sebastian Vollmer, 2013. "Long-run trends of human aging and longevity," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(4), pages 1303-1323, October.
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