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The Lasting Damage to Mortality of Early-Life Adversity: Evidence from the English Famine of the late 1720s

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  • Marc Klemp

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

  • Jacob Weisdorf

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

This paper explores the long-term impact on mortality of exposure to early-life hardship. Using survival analysis, we document that birth during the great English famine of the late 1720s manifest itself in an increased death risk throughout life among those who survive the famine years. Using demographic data from the Cambridge Group’s Population History of England, we find that the death risk of affected individuals who survived to age 10 is up to 66 percent higher than that of their control–group counterparts (those born in the five years following the famine). This corresponds to a loss of life-expectancy of more than 12 years. We find that effects differ geographically as well as with the socioeconomic status of the household, with less well-off (manual-worker) families and families living in the English Midlands being hit the hardest. Evidence does not suggest, however, that children born in the five years prior to the famine suffered increased death risk.

Suggested Citation

  • Marc Klemp & Jacob Weisdorf, 2011. "The Lasting Damage to Mortality of Early-Life Adversity: Evidence from the English Famine of the late 1720s," Discussion Papers 11-14, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:1114
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    Cited by:

    1. van den Berg, Gerard J. & Pinger, Pia R., 2016. "Transgenerational effects of childhood conditions on third generation health and education outcomes," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 103-120.
    2. Francesco Cinnirella & Marc P. B. Klemp & Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2012. "Malthus in the Bedroom: Birth Spacing as a Preventive Check Mechanism in Pre-Modern England," CESifo Working Paper Series 3936, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Sharp, Paul & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2013. "Globalization revisited: Market integration and the wheat trade between North America and Britain from the eighteenth century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 88-98.
    4. Agénor, Pierre-Richard & Canuto, Otaviano & da Silva, Luiz Pereira, 2014. "On gender and growth: The role of intergenerational health externalities and women's occupational constraints," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 132-147.

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    Keywords

    Death Risk; Malthus; Longevity; Positive Checks; Scarring Effect; Selection Effect;

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