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MPIDR Working Paper

The relative importance of shocks in a cohort's early and later life conditions on age-specific mortality

Myrskylä, M.

MPIDR Working Paper WP-2010-009, 44 pages (February 2010).
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

Revised December 2010

Keywords: Europe, mortality

Abstract

The relative importance of a cohort’s early life conditions, compared to later period conditions, on adult- and old-age mortality is not known. This paper studies how cohort-level mortality depends on shocks in the cohort’s early and later life (period) conditions. I use cohort’s own mortality as a proxy for the early life conditions, and define shocks as deviations from trend. Using historical data for five European countries I find that shocks in early life conditions are only weakly associated with cohort’s later mortality. This may be because individual-level health is robust to early life conditions, or because at the cohort-level scarring, selection and immunity cancel each other. Shocks in period conditions, measured as deviations from trend in period child mortality, are strongly and positively correlated with mortality at all older ages. The results suggest that at the cohort-level period conditions drive mortality change.

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