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Individual Behavior as a Pathway between Early-Life Shocks and Adult Health: Evidence from Hunger Episodes in Post-War Germany

  • Kesternich, Iris

    ()

    (University of Munich)

  • Siflinger, Bettina

    ()

    (University of Mannheim)

  • Smith, James P.

    ()

    (RAND)

  • Winter, Joachim K.

    ()

    (University of Munich)

We investigate long-run effects of episodes of hunger experienced as a child on health status and behavioral outcomes in later life. We combine self-reported data on hunger experiences from SHARELIFE, a retrospective survey conducted as part of SHARE in Europe in 2009, with administrative data on food supply (caloric rations) in post-war Germany. The data suggest that individual behavior is a pathway between early life shocks and adult health: We find that those who experienced hunger spend a larger fraction of income on food. Taken together, our results confirm that in addition to the well-documented biological channel from early life circumstances to adult health, there is also a behavioral pathway.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7713.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7713
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  1. Richard Blundell & Xiaohong Chen & Dennis Kristensen, 2007. "Semi-Nonparametric IV Estimation of Shape-Invariant Engel Curves," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(6), pages 1613-1669, November.
  2. van den Berg, Gerard J. & Pinger, Pia R. & Schoch, Johannes, 2012. "Instrumental variable estimation of the causal effect of hunger early in life on health later in life," Working Paper Series 2012:6, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  3. Arthur Lewbel, 2010. "Shape-Invariant Demand Functions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(3), pages 549-556, August.
  4. James P. Smith, 1999. "Healthy Bodies and Thick Wallets: The Dual Relation between Health and Economic Status," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 145-166, Spring.
  5. Mazzonna, Fabrizio, 2014. "The long-lasting effects of family background: A European cross-country comparison," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 25-42.
  6. James Banks & Richard Blundell & Arthur Lewbel, 1997. "Quadratic Engel Curves And Consumer Demand," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(4), pages 527-539, November.
  7. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie, 2011. "Killing Me Softly: The Fetal Origins Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 153-72, Summer.
  8. Kesternich, Iris & Siflinger, Bettina & Smith, James P. & Winter, Joachim K., 2012. "The Effects of World War II on Economic and Health Outcomes across Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 6296, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Koenker, Roger W & Bassett, Gilbert, Jr, 1978. "Regression Quantiles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 33-50, January.
  10. Enkelejda Havari & Franco Peracchi, 2011. "Childhood circumstances and adult outcomes: Evidence from World War II," EIEF Working Papers Series 1115, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Aug 2012.
  11. James J. Heckman, 2012. "The developmental origins of health," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(1), pages 24-29, 01.
  12. Linda Waite, 1995. "Does marriage matter?," Demography, Springer, vol. 32(4), pages 483-507, November.
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