Infant Health and Longevity: Evidence from a Historical Intervention in SwedenISER Internal Seminars

This paper investigates the early life origins of chronic disease, using purposively digitized microdata that track individuals from birth through to death. We exploit quasi-random variation in exposure to an infant health intervention pioneered in Sweden in 1931-1933, the success of which was pivotal in the emergence of universal infant care programmes in the Scandinavian countries during the creation of the Welfare State. We estimate that the average duration of programme exposure in infancy led to a 1.56% point decline in the risk of infant death (24% of baseline risk), which is marker of infant health. We further identify a 2.56% point decline in the risk of dying by age 75 (7.0% of baseline risk), and show that the additional gain in survival chances is realized among those who survive to the age of 50, among whom there is a significant reduction in cancer and cardiovascular mortality. Amidst growing interest in epigenetics and the persistent impacts of early life health, these findings contribute scarce evidence that infant diet and infections may causally modify the risks of chronic disease.

Presented by:

Sonia Bhalotra (ISER)

Date & time:

15 Jun 2016 11:00 am - 15 Jun 2016 12:00 pm



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