Childhood factors can impact on health and mortality later in life. For example, place of birth and where one grows-up— city, state, region, etc. — can impact on future health based on a neighborhood’s socioeconomic condition and the availability and quality of health-related facilities. Economic, health and mortality data are widely available at the state level, and can be aggregated into regions. This chapter examines the role of birthplace region as a potential risk factor for mortality among former NBA and NFL players.
The four regions designated by the US Census Bureau used in this study are the Northeast, South, Midwest and West. The Southern region of the US has a unique history and culture, but is generally economically disadvantaged relative to other US regions. In addition, residence in the South is associated with some of the worse US life expectancy statistics.
In survival analysis that controls for year of birth, NFL players born in the South have significantly elevated mortality risk. This increased risk is about 49% compared to NFL players born in the Western part of the US. Birthplace region has no effect on mortality within NBA players.
About 93% of players in the study cohort graduate from a high school that is in the same region of the country where they are born. Consequently, birthplace region is a good proxy for where childhood occurs. The kind of grouped regional-level data employed in this chapter has limitations since it may not apply to any individual.
KeywordsBirthplace region and mortality Childhood factors and mortality risk Mortality and life expectancy in the South Mortality risk based on birthplace region Birthplace region and childhood residence
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