A Unified Law of Mortality: Implications for the Long Run Effects of Early Conditions

12-1 pm

PSTC Seminar Room 205

Adriana Lleras-Muney, Professor of Economics, UCLA

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How do social and economic conditions experienced early in life affect the evolution of health and mortality rates over the lifetime? To answer this question, Lleras-Muney builds and estimates a simple model of health. A key insight of the approach is that if mortality depends on health then the evolution of mortality rates by age places constraints on the evolution of the underlying distribution of (unobserved) health. So mortality rates can be used to infer how health has evolved over time and across countries. Using cohort life tables provided in the Human Mortality Database, she estimates a model and traces out the evolution of structural parameters since 1850. She uses the model to understand how unexpected shocks, like wars and infectious disease epidemics, affect the age-profile of health and mortality and how these shocks can be compensated for. She also investigates implications for SES gradients and optimal health care expenditures.

Lleras-Muney received her Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University and was an assistant professor of economics at Princeton University for seven years before moving to UCLA. Her research examines the relationships between socio-economic status and health, with a particular focus on education and income. Her most recent work investigates whether cash transfers to poor families improve poor children’s education, lifetime incomes and long term health. She is an associated editor for the Journal of Health Economics and she serves in the board editors of two other journals, Demography and the American Economic Journal-Economic Policy. She is also a permanent member of the Social Sciences and Population Studies Study Section at the National Institute of Health. Lleras-Muney is a faculty fellow at the California Center for Population Research (CCPR); the Center for Economic and Social Research and the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); and a member of the California Policy Lab.

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