Birth Circumstances and Adult Health and Mortality in Northeast China, 1749-1909

Dwight Davis, University of California, Los Angeles
Cameron D. Campbell, University of California, Los Angeles
James Z. Lee, University of Michigan

We investigate whether length of preceding birth interval, maternal age at birth, and season of birth influence health and mortality in adulthood and old age. These features of birth circumstances have been shown to influence infant and child mortality in developing countries and historical populations. We assess whether they have longer term consequences as well. Our data comprise a database of life histories of 250,000 largely rural residents of northeast China in the 18th and 19th centuries recorded in household registers. We estimate logistic regressions to examine how birth circumstances affect the risks of dying or being recorded as disabled in adulthood and old age, accounting for unobserved community and household characteristics with fixed and random effects models. Preliminary results suggest that maternal age and previous birth interval influence health and mortality in adulthood. Contrary to several previous studies, results do not suggest associations between adult mortality and season of birth.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 172: Early Life Conditions and Adult Health