IZA DP No. 6520: The Impact of Early Life Economic Conditions on Cause-Specific Mortality During Adulthood
published in: Journal of Population Economics, 2014, 27 (3), 895-919
The aim of this study is to assess the effects of economic conditions in early life on cause-specific mortality during adulthood. The analyses are performed on a unique historical sample of 14,520 Dutch individuals born in 1880-1918, who are followed throughout life. The economic conditions in early life are characterized using cyclical variations in annual real per capital Gross Domestic Product during pregnancy and the first year of life. Exposure to recessions during pregnancy and/or the first year of life appears to significantly increase all-cause mortality risks and cancer mortality risks of older males and females. It also significantly increases mortality risks due to cardiovascular diseases and chronic respiratory diseases of older females. The residual life expectancies are up to 4.5 to 8% lower for all-cause mortality and up to 1.5 to 7.8% lower for cause-specific mortality. Our analyses show that cardiovascular and cancer mortality risks are related and that not taking this association into account leads to biased inference.