Marteen Lindeboom (University of Amsterdam), Bad Potatoes: A Sibling Analysis of Famine Exposure and Effects on Longevity, Food Economics and Policy Seminar, TSE, May 19, 2017, 11:00–12:30, room MS 003.


By now, there is extensive evidence that exposure to hunger and malnutrition early in life is associated with a high mortality rate at advanced ages. However, it is a recurring issue to what extent these findings are affected by selective fertility. In the literature, famines are used as natural instruments, but healthy families may have less (or more) often children during a famine. In this paper we use a sibling design to estimate long run effects on mortality, exploiting unique individual-level records from around the Dutch potato famine of 1846/47. The data are merged with time series of regional food prices and the actually available calories per capita. The latter allow us to assess effects of the diet composition in terms of various proteins. We use Stratified Partial Likelihood estimation to deal with unobserved household-specific fixed effects. We show that conditions in utero and in the first year of life are on average important. In addition, the effects are quantitatively large in families that face high mortality rates in general. However, it appears that the estimated long run effects are not affected by selective fertility. Gerard J. van den Berg, Maarten Lindeboom, Małgorzata Popławska, France R.M. Portrait