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The transmission of longevity across generations: The case of the settler Cape Colony

  • Piraino, Patrizio


    (SALDRU, School of Economics, University of Cape Town)

  • Muller, Sean


    (SALDRU, School of Economics, University of Cape Town)

  • Cilliers, Jeanne


    (Stellenbosch University)

  • Fourie, Johan


    (Stellenbosch University)

Evidence on long-term multigenerational dynamics is often inadequate as large datasets with multiple generations remain very uncommon. We posit that genealogical records can offer a valuable alternative. Rather than exploring the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic status, we rely on birth and death dates of eighteenth and nineteenth century settlers in South Africa's Cape Colony to estimate the intergenerational transmission of longevity. We find that there is a positive and significant association between parents' and offspring's life duration, as well as between siblings. Although these correlations persist over time, the coefficients are relatively small. While the effect of grandparents' longevity on that of grandchildren is insignificant, the cousin correlations suggest that inequality in longevity might persist across more than two generations. We suggest that family and environmental factors shared by cousins, beyond grandparental longevity, can explain these results.

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Paper provided by Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town in its series SALDRU Working Papers with number 113.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:ldr:wpaper:113
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