Scarred for Life. How conditions in early life affect socioeconomic status, reproduction and mortality in Southern Sweden, 1813-1968

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)

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The aim of this doctoral thesis is to contribute to the debate on the importance of diet and disease in explaining the mortality decline and the general literature of the long-term effects of early life conditions. Using individual-level data from Southern Sweden for 1813 to 1968, this work measures the impacts of grain prices during the foetal stage and infant mortality rates during the year of birth on mortality over the full life course, as well as on female socioeconomic status attainment and reproductive health. Specific exposure to measles, scarlet fever and whooping cough are also considered.
Regarding the impact of prices, higher mortality is observed among exposed landless males in old age, while exposed landless females exhibit lower probabilities of dying in adulthood and old age and experience no significant effects on their socioeconomic status attainment and reproductive health. Regarding the impact of disease, sex-specific effects on mortality are observed in adult ages for those born in years with measles and scarlet fever. However, the effect of exposure to whooping cough on mortality is strong and uniform across individuals of different sexes and socioeconomic status. Females exposed to this disease are also less able to attain high socioeconomic status in adulthood and experience worse reproductive health, providing evidence of transfers across generations. This thesis finds that disease has a more important role than diet in determining the length and quality of life.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Economic History
  • Bengtsson, Tommy, Supervisor
  • Martin, Dribe, Supervisor, External person
Award date2013 Jun 5
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2013-06-05
Time: 10:15
Place: EC3:210

External reviewer(s)

Name: Steckel, Richard
Title: Prof. PhD
Affiliation: Department of Economics, the Ohio State University, USA


Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Economic History


  • Early life
  • selection and scarring
  • diet and disease
  • life course
  • historical demography
  • southern Sweden
  • 19th and 20th century


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