Economic Conditions and Mortality: Evidence from 200 Years of Data

52 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2016

See all articles by David M. Cutler

David M. Cutler

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Wei Huang

Harvard University - Department of Economics; NBER; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Adriana Lleras-Muney

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: September 2016

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

Cutler, David M. and Huang, Wei and Lleras-Muney, Adriana, Economic Conditions and Mortality: Evidence from 200 Years of Data (September 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w22690. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2846905

David M. Cutler (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

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Wei Huang

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
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NBER ( email )

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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Adriana Lleras-Muney

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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