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Childhood Economic Conditions and Length of Life: Evidence from the UK Boyd Orr Cohort, 1937–2005

  • Frijters, Paul

    ()

    (University of Queensland)

  • Shields, Michael A.

    ()

    (Monash University)

  • Hatton, Timothy J.

    ()

    (University of Essex)

  • Martin, Richard M.

    ()

    (University of Bristol)

We study the importance of childhood socioeconomic conditions in explaining differences in life expectancy using data from a sample of around 5,000 children collected in the UK in 1937-39, who have been traced through official death records up to 2005. We estimate a number of duration of life models that control for unobserved household heterogeneity. Our results confirm that childhood conditions such as household income and the quality of the home environment are significant predictors of longevity. Importantly, however, the role of socio-economic status appears to differ across cause of death, with household income only being a significant predictor of death from cancer. Moreover, we find that children born in a location with relatively high infant mortality rates live significantly fewer years, that 1st born children in the family live significantly more years, and that there is a very high correlation in longevity across children from the same family across all causes of death. We estimate that the difference in life expectancy between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ households is as large as 11 years.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3042.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Health Economics, 2010, 29 (1), 39-47
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3042
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  1. Timothy J. Hatton & Roy >. Bailey, 2000. "Seebohm Rowntree and the postwar poverty puzzle," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 53(3), pages 517-543, 08.
  2. Booth, Alison L. & Kee, Hiau Joo, 2005. "Birth Order Matters: The Effect of Family Size and Birth Order on Educational Attainment," IZA Discussion Papers 1713, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Case, Anne & Fertig, Angela & Paxson, Christina, 2005. "The lasting impact of childhood health and circumstance," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 365-389, March.
  4. Carlos Bozzoli & Angus Deaton & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2007. "Child mortality, income and adult height," Working Papers 230, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  5. Modin, Bitte, 2002. "Birth order and mortality: a life-long follow-up of 14,200 boys and girls born in early 20th century Sweden," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 54(7), pages 1051-1064, April.
  6. Jenifer Hamil-Luker & Angela O’rand, 2007. "Gender differences in the link between childhood socioeconomic conditions and heart attack risk in adulthood," Demography, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 137-158, February.
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