A Life Course Perspective on Early Life Conditions and Mortality in Very Late Life Stage

Cheng Huang, University of Pennsylvania

The effect of early life conditions on health has been well documented in Western countries. I extend this research to China, with its distinct social, institutional, and cultural gradients, proving that early life conditions affect mortality risk even for the oldest old. It demonstrates that different patterns exist for males and females in terms of which gradients and how these gradients matter in this process. For females, father’s occupation and family resource distribution among siblings during childhood are crucial for later health outcomes, operating through education and social mobility, as well as health behaviors. Social origin and adulthood SES affect mortality risk in late life interactively, rather than additively. Arm length, as a biomarker of early life nutrition and other childhood conditions, also predicts mortality risk later in life. For males, father’s occupation matters for mortality risk late in life, however, there’s no mediating factor identified, except for physical exercise.

  See paper

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