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The Longevity of Famous People from Hammurabi to Einstein

  • 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
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed013:46
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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. Rodrigo R. Soares, 2004. "Mortality Reductions, Educational Attainment, and Fertility Choice," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 9, Econometric Society.
  2. BOUCEKKINE, Raouf & de la CROIX, David & LICANDRO, Omar, 2002. "Early mortality declines at the dawn of modern growth," CORE Discussion Papers 2002030, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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  4. Michael Bar & Oksana Leukhina, 2009. "The Role of Mortality in the Transmission of Knowledge," DEGIT Conference Papers c014_021, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
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  8. Neil Cummins, 2014. "Longevity and the Rise of the West: Lifespans of the European Elite, 800-1800," Working Papers 0064, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
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  12. Gregory Clark, 2007. "Introduction to A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World," Introductory Chapters, in: A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World Princeton University Press.
  13. Frans van Poppel & Dirk J. van de Kaa & Govert E. Bijwaard, 2013. "Life expectancy of artists in the Low Countries from the fifteenth to the twentieth century," Population Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 67(3), pages 275-292, November.
  14. Cervellati, Matteo & Sunde, Uwe, 2007. "Human Capital, Mortality and Fertility: A Unified Theory of the Economic and Demographic Transition," IZA Discussion Papers 2905, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  16. repec:cai:popine:popu_p1975_30n6_1144 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. 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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  27. John Wilmoth & Shiro Horiuchi, 1999. "Rectangularization revisited: Variability of age at death within human populations," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 36(4), pages 475-495, November.
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