Effects of early-life conditions on adult mortality decline in the Netherlands 1860-1969

Jona Schellekens, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Frans W. A. van Poppel, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)

How important are improvements in early-life conditions in adult mortality decline? Properly controlling for period effects in an age-period-cohort model this paper estimates the contribution of early-life conditions to mortality decline above age 40 in the Netherlands between the onset of decline until the medical innovations of the 1970s. Early-life conditions explain about a third of the adult mortality decline between 1860-74 and 1965-69. Increased height and infant mortality decline explain slightly less than half of the cohort influences (or more than fifteen percent of the decline). While infant mortality has a significant effect on adult mortality, improvements in health conditions in childhood, as measured by infant mortality decline, only make a marginal contribution to adult mortality decline.

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Presented in Session 26: Life-course perspectives on health and mortality