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The Rise of Life Expectancy and Economic Growth in the 20th Century

Author

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  • Hansen, Casper Worm

    () (Department of Economics and Business)

  • Lønstrup, Lars

    () (Department of Business and Economics)

Abstract

This study documents that the growth in life expectancy over the 20th century decreased per capita GDP growth and increased population growth. By exploiting significant advances in medical technologies, starting to diffuse in the 1940s, the analysis establishes that countries with higher levels of infectious-disease mortality prior to the medical breakthrough experienced higher growth rates in life expectancy and population size, and lower growth rates in per capita GDP in the time after the medical breakthroughs. These findings are robust to the inclusion of initial life expectancy and initial GDP per capita. The evidence presented here therefore complements the conclusions inferred in the research by Acemoglu and Johnson (2007).

Suggested Citation

  • Hansen, Casper Worm & Lønstrup, Lars, 2013. "The Rise of Life Expectancy and Economic Growth in the 20th Century," Discussion Papers of Business and Economics 16/2013, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Business and Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:sdueko:2013_016
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson, 2007. "Disease and Development: The Effect of Life Expectancy on Economic Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(6), pages 925-985, December.
    3. Casper Worm Hansen, 2013. "Health and Development: A Neoclassical Perspective," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(3), pages 274-295.
    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. Peter Lorentzen & John McMillan & Romain Wacziarg, 2008. "Death and development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 81-124, June.
    6. Cervellati, Matteo & Sunde, Uwe, 2011. "Disease and development: The role of life expectancy reconsidered," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 113(3), pages 269-272.
    7. Philippe Aghion & Peter Howitt & Fabrice Murtin, 2011. "The Relationship Between Health and Growth: When Lucas Meets Nelson-Phelps," Review of Economics and Institutions, Università di Perugia, vol. 2(1).
    8. Quamrul H. Ashraf & Ashley Lester & David N. Weil, 2009. "When Does Improving Health Raise GDP?," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2008, Volume 23, pages 157-204 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Günther Fink, 2014. "Disease and Development Revisited," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 122(6), pages 1355-1366.
    10. Tamura, Robert, 2006. "Human capital and economic development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 26-72, February.
    11. Hansen, Casper Worm, 2013. "Life expectancy and human capital: Evidence from the international epidemiological transition," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1142-1152.
    12. Hoyt Bleakley, 2007. "Disease and Development: Evidence from Hookworm Eradication in the American South," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 73-117.
    13. Adrienne M. Lucas, 2010. "Malaria Eradication and Educational Attainment: Evidence from Paraguay and Sri Lanka," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 46-71, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:kap:jecgro:v:22:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10887-017-9147-x is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Klasing, Mariko Jasmin & Klasing, Mariko J. & Milionis, Petros, 2016. "The International Epidemiological Transition and the Education Gender Gap," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145771, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    3. Driva, Anastasia & Bauernschuster, Stefan & Hornung, Erik, 2016. "Bismarck’s Health Insurance and the Mortality Decline," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145577, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    4. Casper Worm Hansen & Holger Strulik, 2017. "Life expectancy and education: evidence from the cardiovascular revolution," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 421-450, December.
    5. MAHYAR Hami, 2016. "Economic Growth And Life Expectancy: The Case Of Iran," Studies in Business and Economics, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Faculty of Economic Sciences, vol. 11(1), pages 80-87, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Life expectancy; health shock; long-run economic growth;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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