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Adriana Lleras-Muney, UCLA

Intergenerational Correlations in Longevity

We examine the correlation in longevity (an overall measure of health) across generations using a unique dataset containing information about more than eight million families obtained from Family Search family trees. The intergenerational persistence in longevity is much smaller than that of other outcomes, with a correlation of only about 0.10.  Moreover, this correlation remained relatively stable throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries despite dramatic changes in longevity and its determinants. This result is robust to a variety of specification tests. Consistent with work on the intergenerational correlation of income, we also find evidence of substantial geographic variation in this correlation, suggesting a possible role for institutions.

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