Early-Life Experience and Old-Age Mortality: Evidence from Union Army Veterans

Dejun Su, University of Texas-Pan American

This study examines the relation between risk exposures in early life and hazard of mortality among 12,000 Union Army veterans aged 50 and over in 1900. Veterans' risk exposures earlier in life as approximated by birth season and country, residential location, height at enlistment, and occupation significantly influence their chance of survival after 1900. These effects are robust irrespective of whether or not wartime stress and socioeconomic well-being circa 1900 are taken into account, but they are sensitive to the particular life stage in later life that has been selected for survival analysis. Whereas effects from some variables mainly influence survival between 1900 and 1910, effects from several other variables are more salient on survival after 1910. Compared to corresponding findings from more recent cohorts, the exceptional rigidity of the effects of early exposures on mortality among the veterans highlights the harshness of living conditions in their early life.

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Presented in Poster Session 7