Empirical essays on the effects of early life conditions on health later in life

Schoch, Johannes

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URL: https://madoc.bib.uni-mannheim.de/36788
URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-367885
Document Type: Doctoral dissertation
Year of publication: 2014
Place of publication: Mannheim
University: Universität Mannheim
Evaluator: Berg, Gerard J. van den
Date of oral examination: 15 July 2014
Publication language: English
Institution: Außerfakultäre Einrichtungen > Graduate School of Economic and Social Sciences - CDSE (Economics)
School of Law and Economics > Alexander v. Humboldt Professor in Econometrics and Empirical Economics (van den Berg 2009-2016)
Subject: 330 Economics
Subject headings (SWD): Gesundheitsökonomik , Ökonometrie
Keywords (English): Empirical Health Economics , Barker Hypothesis , Econometrics
Abstract: This dissertation analyses a topic that is nowadays widely studied in economics and other social sciences, but originated from the medical literature: The long-run health effects of early life conditions. Chapter 2 starts out by using business cycle fluctuations around the time of birth of individuals as exogenous variation in early life conditions. Specifically, it asks the question how such shocks influence the quantitative impact of later life events such as bereavement or the onset of diseases on the trajectory of cognitive and mental health outcomes. The third chapter is concerned with the later life health effects of experiencing a famine in utero or shortly after birth. We use a unique combination of data on the German context of World War II and its aftermath -- specifically on air raids on German cities during the war and food rations distributed during and after the war -- to measure two reduced form effects: the effects of air raid attacks and the effects of famine early in life on various health outcomes. Under our theoretical considerations, we can use the results of this exercise to disentangle the effect components inherent in famine effects (in our case stress and malnutrition). Chapter 4 tackles a shortcoming of famine studies and starts out by noting that a reduced form famine effect is in general not a quantitatively relevant measure of how a severe lack of nutrition in infancy or childhood affects later life health. We use individual reports of hunger episodes in childhood and instrumental variables techniques to estimate the causal effect of hunger and compare this estimate to the commonly estimated reduced form famine effect.

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