Parental Influences on Health and Longevity: Lessons from a Large Sample of Adoptees

61 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2016 Last revised: 20 Jun 2021

See all articles by Mikael Lindahl

Mikael Lindahl

University of Gothenburg - Department of Economics and Statistics

Evelina Lundberg

Uppsala University

Marten Palme

Stockholm University - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Emilia Simeonova

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School

Date Written: January 2016

Abstract

To what extent is the length of our lives determined by pre-birth factors? And to what extent is it affected by parental resources during our upbringing that can be influenced by public policy? We study the formation of adult health and mortality using data on about 21,000 adoptees born between 1940 and 1967. The data include detailed information on both biological and adopting parents. We find that the health of the biological parents affects the health of their adopted children. Thus, we confirm that genes and conditions in utero are important intergenerational transmission channels for long-term health. However, we also find strong evidence that the educational attainment of the adopting mother has a significant impact on the health of her adoptive children, suggesting that family environment and resources in the post-birth years have long-term consequences for children’s health.

Suggested Citation

Lindahl, Mikael and Lundberg, Evelina and Palme, Marten and Simeonova, Emilia, Parental Influences on Health and Longevity: Lessons from a Large Sample of Adoptees (January 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w21946, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2725721

Mikael Lindahl (Contact Author)

University of Gothenburg - Department of Economics and Statistics ( email )

Box 640
Vasagatan 1, E-building, floor 5 & 6
Göteborg, 40530
Sweden

Evelina Lundberg

Uppsala University ( email )

Box 513
Uppsala, 751 20
Sweden

Marten Palme

Stockholm University - Department of Economics ( email )

Universitetsvägen 10 A
House A, floor 4 and 7
Frescati, Stockholm
Sweden
+46163307 (Phone)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Emilia Simeonova

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School ( email )

100 International Drive
Baltimore, MD 21202
United States

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