What's Past Is Prologue: The Impact of Early Life Health and Circumstance on Health in Old Age

Anne Case

in Research Findings in the Economics of Aging

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780226903064
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226903088 | DOI:
What's Past Is Prologue: The Impact of Early Life Health and Circumstance on Health in Old Age

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This chapter explores the relationship between economic circumstances and health, focusing on health and environment in early childhood and its long-term effect on health and functioning in old age. There are two markers of health and environment in early life to assess their impact on health in later life. The first documents the extent to which height, as a measure of early life health and nutrition, is associated with more outcomes that are favorable in old age. The second looks at the conditions that might have affected a mother's nutrition while pregnant specifically, the success of corn crop production while she was pregnant, are predictive of health in later life, and whether this marker of mother's nutrition can explain the association between height and health outcomes in old age. The study finds that height is protective of health. Height appears to become more protective against hypertension, activities of daily living ADLs, and loss of fine motor skills at the oldest ages, when there is a higher risk of poor health. Height and corn production both have large and significant effects on health in old age.

Keywords: health; old age; environment; nutrition

Chapter.  9034 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economics

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