Journal Article

The lasting damage to mortality of early-life adversity: evidence from the English famine of the late 1720s

Marc Klemp and Jacob Weisdorf

in European Review of Economic History

Volume 16, issue 3, pages 233-246
Published in print August 2012 | ISSN: 1361-4916
Published online May 2012 | e-ISSN: 1474-0044 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ereh/hes003
The lasting damage to mortality of early-life adversity: evidence from the English famine of the late 1720s

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This paper explores the long-term impact on mortality of exposure to hardship in early-life. Using survival analysis, we demonstrate that birth during the great English famine of the late 1720s entailed an increased death risk throughout life among those who survived the famine years. Using demographic data from the Cambridge Group's Population History of England, we find the death risk at age 10 among the most exposed group—children born to English Midlands families of a lower socioeconomic rank—is up to 66 percent higher than that of the control group (children of similar background born in the 5 years following the famine). This corresponds to a loss of life expectancy of more than 12 years. However, evidence does not suggest that children born in the 5 years prior to the famine suffered increased death risk.

Journal Article.  6209 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Industrial History ; Labour History ; Economic History

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