Life Expectancy and Economic Development: Evidence from Microdata

24 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2020

See all articles by Belgi Turan

Belgi Turan

TOBB University of Economics and Technology

Date Written: August 2020


This study examines the effect of life expectancy on fertility, education, and labor force participation. Using birth and sibling histories from the Demographic Health Surveys conducted in sub‐Saharan Africa, I construct a time series of age‐specific birth rates and mortality rates at the country‐region level. I use these data to test the implications of a general equilibrium model linking life expectancy to fertility, human capital, and labor supply. My results suggest that increases in life expectancy reduce fertility, increase education, and increase labor force participation. Overall, my empirical results suggest that in sub‐Saharan Africa, increases in life expectancy will have a positive impact on growth through fertility, education, and labor supply but that the effect will be small. My results also rule out the possibility that recent shocks to adult mortality in high HIV prevalence countries will reduce fertility, increase labor productivity, and lead to faster growth.

Keywords: economic development, education, fertility, labor supply, life expectancy, HIV/AIDS

Suggested Citation

Turan, Belgi, Life Expectancy and Economic Development: Evidence from Microdata (August 2020). Review of Development Economics, Vol. 24, Issue 3, pp. 949-972, 2020, Available at SSRN: or

Belgi Turan (Contact Author)

TOBB University of Economics and Technology ( email )

Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences
Söğütözü Cad. 43,
Ankara, Cankaya

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