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Mortality shocks and the human rate of aging

Author

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  • Virginia Zarulli

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

Abstract

Investigating the effect of mortality shocks on humans is difficult in the absence of laboratory experiments. However, some events in human history serve as natural experiments. Using data for Australian prisoners during WWII and for the Ukrainian Famine in 1933, I analyzed the effect of sudden changes in external conditions on the rate of aging. This may help to decide whether the rate of aging is sensitive to the environment or is stable. The mortality of the prisoners of war was higher during the imprisonment but the slope of the curve did not change. During the Ukrainian Famine, the curves in the years of crisis converged at old ages. By adopting a cohort perspective I found evidence of selection that could be the cause of the convergence. The analysis suggests that sudden and transitory exposure to severe conditions shifts the mortality curve upward proportionally at all ages, leaving the rate of aging unchanged.

Suggested Citation

  • Virginia Zarulli, 2012. "Mortality shocks and the human rate of aging," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2012-019, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2012-019
    DOI: 10.4054/MPIDR-WP-2012-019
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Timothy W. Guinnane & Cormac Ó Gr´da, 2002. "Mortality in the North Dublin Union during the Great Famine," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 55(3), pages 487-506, August.
    2. Chen, Yuyu & Zhou, Li-An, 2007. "The long-term health and economic consequences of the 1959-1961 famine in China," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 659-681, July.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General

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