Early-Life Economic Conditions and Later-Life Mortality Risk in the United States

Ryan K. Masters, Columbia University

Health researchers have made great strides in linking deleterious early-life conditions to health outcomes later in life. Increasingly, researchers are using exogenous events during pregnancy and/or childhood (e.g., wars, famines, earthquakes, and economic cycles) to analyze the effects of such events on various health outcomes in adulthood. In this line, I analyze the association between recessions during third trimester of pregnancy, cumulative exposure to recessions before the age of three, and later-life mortality risk in the United States. Data from the National Health Interview Surveys-Linked Mortality Files for years 1986-2006 were combined with data on quarterly Gross National Product (GNP) per capita for years 1902-1956 to reveal significant associations between economic conditions during pregnancy and subsequent cardiovascular disease- and cancer-related mortality between ages 50 and 85 for U.S. non-Hispanic black and white men and women between 1986 and 2006.

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Presented in Session 169: Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Mortality