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The Longevity of Famous People from Hammurabi to Einstein

Listed author(s):
  • Omar Licandro

    (IAE-CSIC and Barcelona GSE)

  • David de la Croix

    (Univ cath Louvain)

We built a unique dataset of 300,000 famous people born between Hammurabi's epoch and 1879, Einstein's birth year. It includes, among other variables, the vital dates, occupations, and locations of celebrities from the Index Bio-bibliographicus Notorum Hominum (IBN), a very comprehensive biographical tool. Our main contribution is fourfold. First, we show, using for the first time a worldwide, long-running, consistent database, that there was no trend in mortality rates during the Malthusian era. Second, after correcting for selection and composition biases, we date the beginning of the steady improvements in longevity to the cohort born in 1640-9, clearly preceding the Industrial Revolution. Third, we find that this timing of improvements in longevity concerns most countries in Europe, as well as all types of skilled occupations. Finally, the reasons for this early increase in mean lifetime are related to age-dependent shifts in the survival law.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2013 Meeting Papers with number 46.

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Date of creation: 2013
Handle: RePEc:red:sed013:46
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA

Web page: http://www.EconomicDynamics.org/
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  1. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Natural Selection and the Origin of economic Growth," Working Papers 2000-18, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  2. BOUCEKKINE, Raouf & DE LA CROIX, David & LICANDRO, Omar, "undated". "Early mortality declines at the dawn of modern growth," CORE Discussion Papers RP 1681, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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  5. David de la Croix & Omar Licandro, 2007. "‘The Child is Father of the Man:’ Implications for the Demographic Transition," Economics Working Papers ECO2007/05, European University Institute.
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  11. Robert W. Fogel, 1994. "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," NBER Working Papers 4638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. David Cutler & Angus Deaton & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2005. "The Determinants of Mortality," Working Papers 235, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  13. Tine De Moor & Jaco Zuijderduijn, 2013. "The Art of Counting: Reconstructing Numeracy of the Middle and Upper Classes on the Basis of Portraits in the Early Modern Low Countries," Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(1), pages 41-56, March.
  14. Cervellati, Matteo & Sunde, Uwe, 2007. "Human Capital, Mortality and Fertility: A Unified Theory of the Economic and Demographic Transition," CEPR Discussion Papers 6384, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Mara P. Squicciarini & Nico Voigtländer, 2014. "Human Capital and Industrialization: Evidence from the Age of Enlightenment," NBER Working Papers 20219, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Boucekkine, Raouf & de la Croix, David & Licandro, Omar, 2002. "Vintage Human Capital, Demographic Trends, and Endogenous Growth," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 104(2), pages 340-375, June.
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