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The transmission of longevity across generations: The case of the settler Cape Colony

Patrizio Piraino (), Sean Muller, Jeanne Cilliers () and Johan Fourie ()
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Jeanne Cilliers: Stellenbosch University

No 113, SALDRU Working Papers from Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town

Abstract: Evidence on long-term multigenerational dynamics is often inadequate as large datasets with multiple generations remain very uncommon. We posit that genealogical records can offer a valuable alternative. Rather than exploring the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic status, we rely on birth and death dates of eighteenth and nineteenth century settlers in South Africa's Cape Colony to estimate the intergenerational transmission of longevity. We find that there is a positive and significant association between parents' and offspring's life duration, as well as between siblings. Although these correlations persist over time, the coefficients are relatively small. While the effect of grandparents' longevity on that of grandchildren is insignificant, the cousin correlations suggest that inequality in longevity might persist across more than two generations. We suggest that family and environmental factors shared by cousins, beyond grandparental longevity, can explain these results.

Keywords: intergenerational mobility; longevity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J62 N37 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-afr, nep-age, nep-evo, nep-ger, nep-gro and nep-his
Date: 2013
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