The Past as Prologue: The Effect of Early Life Circumstances at the Community and Household Levels on Mid-Life and Late-Life Outcomes

Joseph Ferrie, Northwestern University
Karen Rolf, University of Nebraska
Werner Troesken, George Mason University

We explore the impact of circumstances early in life on later life outcomes in the U.S. using data linking individuals from the manuscript schedules of federal population censuses shortly after their birth to Social Security records and state death records. This allows us to assess the effect of individual, household, and community level influences on education, income, longevity, and cause of death. In our preliminary analysis, we find that season of birth, parents’ literacy and fluency in English, and the local mortality environment during the first five years of life had substantial affects on age at death, as did characteristics measured at enlistment into the U.S. Army in World War Two. The current paper extends this work by examining measures of education and income (mid-life outcomes), as well as cause-specific mortality, and how they relate to early life circumstances.

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Presented in Session 141: Life Course Connections