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Economic Conditions in Early Life and Circulatory Disease Mortality

Ryan K. Masters

Population and Development Review, 2018, vol. 44, issue 3, 519-553

Abstract: I test the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease hypothesis using a cohort perspective on mortality. I combine data from the National Health Interview Survey Linked Mortality Files, 1986–2006, and U.S. economic data between 1902 and 1956 (403,746 respondents and 39,439 deaths), to estimate how exposures to adverse economic conditions in utero and during the first three years of life affect circulatory disease mortality risk in adulthood. I also examine cohort‐based variation in these associations. Findings suggest that in utero exposures to poor economic conditions increased risk of death from circulatory diseases. Results are consistent with theory and evidence suggesting that developmental processes early in life are strongly associated with circulatory disease susceptibility in older adulthood. However, findings indicate that the mortality effects of these early‐life exposures have likely weakened across birth cohorts.

Date: 2018
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