The Influence of Early Life Health Conditions on Life Course Health

61 Pages Posted: 18 May 2020 Last revised: 2 Apr 2023

See all articles by Manuel Flores Mallo

Manuel Flores Mallo

Universitat Internacional de Catalunya

Barbara Wolfe

University of Wisconsin-Madison; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); RSSS-economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Date Written: May 2020


We expand on earlier studies investigating the links between early health and later health by including different dimensions of early-life health and multiple life course outcomes consisting of the age of onset of serious cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and multiple job-related health outcomes. The four dimensions of childhood health are mental, physical, self-rated general health and severe headaches or migraines. The data set we use includes 21 countries from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe. We find that the different dimensions of childhood health have unique ties to later outcomes. For men, early mental health problems play a stronger role for life course job-related health outcomes, but early poor or fair general health is more strongly linked to the spike in onset of CVDs in their late 40s. For women, these links between childhood health dimensions and life course outcomes are less clear-cut than for men. The spike in onset of CVDs in their late 40s is driven by those with severe headaches or migraines while those with early physical health problems generally do better as captured by job-related outcomes. We also explore and control for possible mediating factors and assess the importance of omitted variables using a test proposed by Oster (2019).

Suggested Citation

Flores Mallo, Manuel and Wolfe, Barbara L., The Influence of Early Life Health Conditions on Life Course Health (May 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27174, Available at SSRN:

Manuel Flores Mallo (Contact Author)

Universitat Internacional de Catalunya

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Barbara L. Wolfe

University of Wisconsin-Madison ( email )

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