IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cor/louvco/2012052.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The longevity of famous people from Hammurabi to Einstein

Author

Listed:
  • DE LA CROIX, David

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

  • LICANDRO, Omar

    (IAE-CSIC and Barcelona GSE)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • DE LA CROIX, David & LICANDRO, Omar, 2012. "The longevity of famous people from Hammurabi to Einstein," LIDAM Discussion Papers CORE 2012052, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cor:louvco:2012052
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://uclouvain.be/cps/ucl/doc/core/documents/coredp2012_52web.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. 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, September.
    3. David de la Croix & Omar Licandro, 2013. "The Child is Father Of the Man: Implications for the Demographic Transition," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 123(567), pages 236-261, March.
    4. Nathan Nunn & Nancy Qian, 2011. "The Potato's Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence From A Historical Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 593-650.
    5. 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.
    6. Robert E. Lucas, 2009. "Ideas and Growth," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 76(301), pages 1-19, February.
    7. Rodrigo R. Soares, 2005. "Mortality Reductions, Educational Attainment, and Fertility Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 580-601, June.
    8. Matteo Cervellati & Uwe Sunde, 2015. "The Economic and Demographic Transition, Mortality, and Comparative Development," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 189-225, July.
    9. David Cutler & Angus Deaton & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2006. "The Determinants of Mortality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(3), pages 97-120, Summer.
    10. Cervellati, Matteo & Sunde, Uwe, 2007. "Human Capital, Mortality and Fertility: A Unified Theory of the Economic and Demographic Transition," IZA Discussion Papers 2905, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    11. Henry T Robertson & David B Allison, 2012. "A Novel Generalized Normal Distribution for Human Longevity and other Negatively Skewed Data," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 7(5), pages 1-7, May.
    12. Mara P. Squicciarini & Nico Voigtländer, 2015. "Human Capital and Industrialization: Evidence from the Age of Enlightenment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(4), pages 1825-1883.
    13. 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.
    14. repec:cai:popine:popu_p1975_30n6_1144 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. 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(3), pages 783-808, September.
    16. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 1999. "From Malthusian Stagnation to Modern Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 150-154, May.
    17. Boucekkine, Raouf & de la Croix, David & Licandro, Omar, 2002. "Vintage Human Capital, Demographic Trends, and Endogenous Growth," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 104(2), pages 340-375, June.
    18. Tine De Moor & Jaco Zuijderduijn, 2013. "The Art of Counting: Reconstructing Numeracy of the Middle and Upper Classes on the Basis of Portraits in the Early Modern Low Countries," Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(1), pages 41-56, March.
    19. 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.
    20. repec:cai:popine:popu_p1977_32n1_0352 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. 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 369-395, June.
    22. 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).
    23. repec:cai:poeine:pope_1004_0631 is not listed on IDEAS
    24. 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.
    25. Michael Bar & Oksana Leukhina, 2010. "The role of mortality in the transmission of knowledge," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 291-321, December.
    26. Mokyr, Joel, 2005. "The Intellectual Origins of Modern Economic Growth," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(2), pages 285-351, June.
    27. 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(2), pages 322-355, June.
    28. Gregory Clark, 2007. "Introduction to A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World," Introductory Chapters, in: A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World, Princeton University Press.
    29. Nancy Qian & Nathan Nunn, 2010. "The Potato’s Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence from an Historical Experiment," Working Papers id:2792, eSocialSciences.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Longevity increased much before the Industrial Revolution
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2012-12-05 20:36:00
    2. Monday miscellany
      by Brett in Brett Keller on 2012-12-10 12:48:34

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. David de la CROIX, 2014. "Economic Growth," LIDAM Discussion Papers IRES 2014019, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    2. Mara P. Squicciarini & Nico Voigtländer, 2015. "Human Capital and Industrialization: Evidence from the Age of Enlightenment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(4), pages 1825-1883.
    3. Borowiecki, Karol Jan & Dahl, Christian Møller, 2021. "What makes an artist? The evolution and clustering of creative activity in the US since 1850," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(C).
    4. Serafinelli, Michel & Tabellini, Guido, 2017. "Creativity over Time and Space," CEPR Discussion Papers 12365, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Sandra Brée & David de la Croix, 2019. "Key forces behind the decline of fertility: lessons from childlessness in Rouen before the industrial revolution," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 13(1), pages 25-54, January.
    6. David de la Croix & Matthias Doepke & Joel Mokyr, 2018. "Clans, Guilds, and Markets: Apprenticeship Institutions and Growth in the Preindustrial Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 133(1), pages 1-70.
    7. Thomas TB Baudin & David De la Croix & Paula Eugenia Gobbi, 2019. "Childlessness and Economic Development: a Survey," Working Papers ECARES 2019-03, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    8. Weil, David N., 2014. "Health and Economic Growth," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 3, pages 623-682, Elsevier.
    9. Lecce, Giampaolo & Ogliari, Laura & Squicciarini, Mara P., 2021. "Birth and migration of scientists: Does religiosity matter? Evidence from 19th-century France," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 187(C), pages 274-289.
    10. David De La Croix & Frédéric Docquier & Alice Fabre & Robert Stelter, 2019. "The Academic Market And The Rise Of Universities In Medieval And Early Modern Europe (1000-1800)," LIDAM Discussion Papers IRES 2019019, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    11. Fabian Wahl, 2017. "Does European development have Roman roots? Evidence from the German Limes," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(3), pages 313-349, September.
    12. Seth G. Benzell & Kevin Cooke, 2021. "A Network of Thrones: Kinship and Conflict in Europe, 1495–1918," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 102-133, July.
    13. Fabio Mariani & Agustin Perez Barahona & Natacha Raffin, 2019. "Population and the environment: the role of fertility, education and life expectancy," LIDAM Discussion Papers IRES 2019008, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    14. Robert Stelter & David de la Croix & Mikko Myrskylä, 2020. "Leaders And Laggards In Life Expectancy Among European Scholars From The Sixteenth To The Early Twentieth Century," LIDAM Discussion Papers IRES 2020024, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    15. Cummins, Neil, 2017. "Lifespans of the European elite, 800–1800," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 83576, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    16. Lee, Wang-Sheng & Li, Ben G., 2021. "Extreme weather and mortality: Evidence from two millennia of Chinese elites," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C).

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Matteo Cervellati & Uwe Sunde, 2011. "Life expectancy and economic growth: the role of the demographic transition," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 99-133, June.
    2. Holger Strulik & Katharina Werner, 2016. "50 is the new 30—long-run trends of schooling and retirement explained by human aging," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 165-187, June.
    3. Laura Leker & Gregory Ponthiere, 2015. "Education, life expectancy and family bargaining: the Ben-Porath effect revisited," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(4), pages 481-513, August.
    4. Cohen, Daniel & Leker, Laura, 2014. "Health and Education: Another Look with the Proper Data," CEPR Discussion Papers 9940, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Moshe Hazan & Hosny Zoabi, 2005. "Does Longevity Cause Growth," GE, Growth, Math methods 0507001, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. David de la Croix, 2010. "Adult Longevity and Economic Take-off from Malthus to Ben-Porath," Chapters, in: Neri Salvadori (ed.), Institutional and Social Dynamics of Growth and Distribution, chapter 8, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. Raouf Boucekkine & Rodolphe Desbordes & Hélène Latzer, 2009. "How do epidemics induce behavioral changes?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 233-264, September.
    8. Bloom, David E. & Kuhn, Michael & Prettner, Klaus, 2018. "Health and Economic Growth," IZA Discussion Papers 11939, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Holger Strulik, 2015. "The physiological foundations of the wealth of nations," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 37-73, March.
    10. 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.
    11. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2004. "Natural Selection and the Evolution of Life Expectancy," GE, Growth, Math methods 0409004, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Akira Momota, 2020. "Long Life-span and Optimal Recurrent Education," KIER Working Papers 1042, Kyoto University, Institute of Economic Research.
    13. Francesco Ricci & Marios Zachariadis, 2013. "Education Externalities on Longevity," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 80(319), pages 404-440, July.
    14. Matteo Cervellati & Uwe Sunde, 2015. "The Economic and Demographic Transition, Mortality, and Comparative Development," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 189-225, July.
    15. Sánchez-Romero, Miguel & d׳Albis, Hippolyte & Prskawetz, Alexia, 2016. "Education, lifetime labor supply, and longevity improvements," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 118-141.
    16. Moshe Hazan & Hosny Zoabi, 2006. "Does longevity cause growth? A theoretical critique," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 363-376, December.
    17. Strulik, Holger, 2008. "Geography, health, and the pace of demo-economic development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 61-75, April.
    18. Fiaschi, Davide & Fioroni, Tamara, 2019. "Transition to modern growth in Great Britain: The role of technological progress, adult mortality and factor accumulation," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 472-490.
    19. James Foreman-Peck & Peng Zhou, 2021. "Fertility versus productivity: a model of growth with evolutionary equilibria," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 34(3), pages 1073-1104, July.
    20. Sascha Becker & Francesco Cinnirella & Ludger Woessmann, 2010. "The trade-off between fertility and education: evidence from before the demographic transition," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 177-204, September.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    longevity; notoriety; Malthus; Gompertz-Makeham; compensation effect of mortality;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cor:louvco:2012052. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/coreebe.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Alain GILLIS (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/coreebe.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.