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Department of Business and Economics, University of Southern Denmark Discussion Papers of Business and Economics
Department of Business and Economics, University of Southern Denmark

No 16/2013:
The Rise of Life Expectancy and Economic Growth in the 20th Century

Casper Worm Hansen () and Lars Lønstrup ()

Abstract: This study documents that the growth in life expectancy over the 20th century decreased per capita GDP growth and increased population growth. By exploiting significant advances in medical technologies, starting to diffuse in the 1940s, the analysis establishes that countries with higher levels of infectious-disease mortality prior to the medical breakthrough experienced higher growth rates in life expectancy and population size, and lower growth rates in per capita GDP in the time after the medical breakthroughs. These findings are robust to the inclusion of initial life expectancy and initial GDP per capita. The evidence presented here therefore complements the conclusions inferred in the research by Acemoglu and Johnson (2007).

Keywords: Life expectancy; health shock; long-run economic growth; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: I10; J11; O40; (follow links to similar papers)

19 pages, October 16, 2013

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