Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 895–919 | Cite as

The impact of early-life economic conditionson cause-specific mortality during adulthood

  • Gary Y. C. Yeung
  • Gerard J. van den Berg
  • Maarten Lindeboom
  • France R. M. PortraitEmail author
Original Paper


The aim of this study is to assess the effects of economic conditions in early life on cause-specific mortality during adulthood. The analyses are performed on a unique historical sample of 14,520 Dutch individuals born in 1880–1918, who are followed throughout life. The economic conditions in early life are characterized using cyclical variations in annual real per capital gross domestic product during pregnancy and the first year of life. Exposure to recessions in early life appears to significantly increase cancer mortality risks of older males and females. It also significantly increases other mortality risks especially for older females. The residual life expectancies are up to about 8 and 6 % lower for male and female cancer mortality, respectively, and up to about 5 % lower for female cardiovascular mortality. Our analyses show that cardiovascular and cancer mortality risks are related and that not taking this association into account leads to biased inference.


Life expectancy Cancer Cardiovascular disease Survival analyses Competing mortality risks Recession 

JEL Classifications

C41 I10 E32 



We thank the editor, two anonymous referees and participants at the European Social Science History Conference, the International Student Congress of Medical Sciences, and the European Conference on Health Economics for their useful suggestions. This project was part of the first author’s extracurricular research programme of medicine at the VU University Amsterdam. We thank Henk de Vries and the referees of that programme for their useful comments. We are indebted to the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam (IISH), Statistics Netherlands in The Hague (CBS) and Angus Maddison, for access to their data. We thank the CBS Centre for Policy Related Statistics in The Hague for their assistance and Kees Mandemakers (IISH) for his help. This project received financial support from the VU University Medical Centre’s Department of General Practice in Amsterdam for the acquisition of the CBS data.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary Y. C. Yeung
    • 1
  • Gerard J. van den Berg
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Maarten Lindeboom
    • 5
    • 6
    • 7
    • 8
  • France R. M. Portrait
    • 9
    Email author
  1. 1.VU University Medical Centre AmsterdamVU University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.University of MannheimMannheimGermany
  3. 3.IFAUUppsalaSweden
  4. 4.VU University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  5. 5.IZABonnGermany
  6. 6.Tinbergen InstituteVU University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  7. 7.HEBBergenNorway
  8. 8.NetsparTilburgThe Netherlands
  9. 9.Institute of Health SciencesVU University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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