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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
Date of revision:
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
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  1. 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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  12. 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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