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The Intimate Link between Income Levels and Life Expectancy: Global Evidence from 213 Years

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  • Jetter, Michael

    (University of Western Australia)

  • Laudage, Sabine

    (University of Bayreuth)

  • Stadelmann, David

    (University of Bayreuth)

Abstract

Contrary to previous findings, we find a systematic and economically sizeable relationship between income levels and life expectancy in a panel dataset of 197 countries over 213 years. By itself, GDP/capita explains more than 64 percent of the variation in life expectancy. The Preston curve prevails, even when accounting for country- and time-fixed effects, country-specific time trends, and alternative control variables. Quantile regressions and instrumental variable estimations suggest this link to be persistent across different levels of life expectancy and unaffected by reverse causality. If policymakers want to prolong people's lives, economic growth appears to be the predominant medicine.

Suggested Citation

  • Jetter, Michael & Laudage, Sabine & Stadelmann, David, 2016. "The Intimate Link between Income Levels and Life Expectancy: Global Evidence from 213 Years," IZA Discussion Papers 10015, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10015
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    life expectancy; income levels; historical panel data; quantile regression analysis;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health

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