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Early-life conditions and adult mortality decline in Dutch cohorts born 1812–1921

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Mounting evidence suggests that early-life conditions have an enduring effect on an individual’s mortality risks as an adult. The contribution of improvements in early-life conditions to the overall decline in adult mortality, however, remains a debated issue. We provide an estimate of the contribution of improvements in early-life conditions to mortality decline after age 30 in Dutch cohorts born between 1812 and 1921. We used two proxies for early-life conditions: median height and early-childhood mortality. We estimate that improvements in early-life conditions contributed more than five years or about a third to the rise in women’s life expectancy at age 30. Improvements in early-life conditions contributed almost three years or more than a quarter to the rise in men’s life expectancy at age 30. Height appears to be the more important of the two proxies for early-life conditions.
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Keywords: adult mortality; early-childhood mortality; early-life conditions; height; infant mortality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Hebrew University, 2: Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute,

Publication date: 01 September 2016

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