The longevity of famous people from Hammurabi to Einstein
De la Croix, David and Licandro, Omar (2015) The longevity of famous people from Hammurabi to Einstein. Journal of Economic Growth, 20 (3). pp. 263-303. ISSN 1381-4338
We build a new sample of 300,000 famous people born between Hammurabi's epoch and Einstein's cohort, including their vital dates, occupations, and locations from the Index Bio-bibliographicus Notorum Hominum. We discuss and control for selection and composition biases. We show using this long-running consistent database that there was no trend in mortality during most of human history, confirming the existence of a Malthusian epoch; we date the beginning of the steady improvements in longevity to the cohort born in 1640-9, clearly preceding the Industrial Revolution, lending credence to the hypothesis that human capital may have played a significant role in the take-off to modern growth; we find that this timing of improvements in longevity concerns most countries in Europe and most skilled occupations.
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