A Time-Series Test of Diminished Entelechy in Birth Cohorts

Tim-Allen Bruckner, University of California, Berkeley
Ralph Catalano, University of California, Berkeley

The literature implies a “diminished entelechy” hypothesis in which birth cohorts subjected to relatively virulent environmental insults early in life do not realize their otherwise expected life span. No direct test of this hypothesis appears in the literature. We test the hypothesis directly by measuring the association between mortality in the first year and life expectancy at age one in Sweden for male and female cohorts born between 1751 and 1912. Our results support the hypothesis in that life expectancy at age one fell below the values expected from history in cohorts in which the infant mortality rate increased over its expected value. These findings suggest that suffering relatively virulent environmental insults during infancy reduces the subsequent lifespan of birth cohorts. Further exploratory analysis discovered positive intra-cohort associations between infant mortality and subsequent mortality for the 1-to-4 and 5-to-19 year age groups, but not for mortality in older ages.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Poster Session 5: Health, Mortality, Aging, Biology