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Economic Conditions and Mortality: Evidence from 200 Years of Data

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  • David M. Cutler
  • Wei Huang
  • Adriana Lleras-Muney

Abstract

Using data covering over 100 birth-cohorts in 32 countries, we examine the short- and long-term effects of economic conditions on mortality. We find that small, but not large, booms increase contemporary mortality. Yet booms from birth to age 25, particularly those during adolescence, lower adult mortality. A simple model can rationalize these findings if economic conditions differentially affect the level and trajectory of both good and bad inputs into health. Indeed, air pollution and alcohol consumption increase in booms. In contrast, booms in adolescence raise adult incomes and improve social relations and mental health, suggesting these mechanisms dominate in the long run.

Suggested Citation

  • David M. Cutler & Wei Huang & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2016. "Economic Conditions and Mortality: Evidence from 200 Years of Data," NBER Working Papers 22690, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22690
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative

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