Volume 22 - Article 20 | Pages 579–634  

No consistent effects of prenatal or neonatal exposure to Spanish flu on late-life mortality in 24 developed countries

By Alan Cohen, John Tillinghast, Vladimir Canudas-Romo


We test the effects of early life exposure to disease on later health by looking for differences in late-life mortality in cohorts born around the 1918-1919 flu pandemic using data from the Human Mortality Database for 24 countries. After controlling for age, period, and sex effects, residual mortality rates did not differ systematically for flu cohorts relative to surrounding cohorts. We calculate at most a 20-day reduction in life expectancy for flu cohorts; likely values are much smaller. Estimates of influenza incidence during the pandemic suggest that exposure was high enough for this to be a robust negative result.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Subnational contribution to life expectancy and life span variation changes: Evidence from the United States
Volume 50 - Article 22

Variable-r in sex ratios: Formulas in honor of Jim Vaupel
Volume 49 - Article 26

Comparative evidence of years lived with reproductive-age morbidity in sub-Saharan Africa (2010‒2019)
Volume 49 - Article 6

The role of reductions in old-age mortality in old-age population growth
Volume 44 - Article 44

Expected years ever married
Volume 38 - Article 47

Coherent forecasts of mortality with compositional data analysis
Volume 37 - Article 17

Decomposing changes in life expectancy: Compression versus shifting mortality
Volume 33 - Article 14

The Gompertz force of mortality in terms of the modal age at death
Volume 32 - Article 36

Cause-specific measures of life years lost
Volume 29 - Article 41

The crossover between life expectancies at birth and at age one: The imbalance in the life table
Volume 24 - Article 4

An integrated approach to cause-of-death analysis: cause-deleted life tables and decompositions of life expectancy
Volume 19 - Article 35

The modal age at death and the shifting mortality hypothesis
Volume 19 - Article 30

Changing mortality and average cohort life expectancy
Volume 13 - Article 5

Age-specific contributions to changes in the period and cohort life expectancy
Volume 13 - Article 3

Decomposing demographic change into direct vs. compositional components
Volume 7 - Article 1

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

Incorporating subjective survival information in mortality and change in health status predictions: A Bayesian approach
Volume 50 - Article 36    | Keywords: Bayesian demography, health, mortality, self report, subjective mortality probabilities

Standardized mean age at death (MADstd): Exploring its potentials as a measure of human longevity
Volume 50 - Article 30    | Keywords: formal demography, life expectancy, mean age at death, mortality, standardization

Differences in mortality before retirement: The role of living arrangements and marital status in Denmark
Volume 50 - Article 20    | Keywords: inequalities, living arrangements, marital status, mortality, retirement

Racial classification as a multistate process
Volume 50 - Article 17    | Keywords: Brazil, demography, increments to life, life expectancy, life table, mortality, multistate, race/ethnicity

Measuring short-term mobility patterns in North America using Facebook advertising data, with an application to adjusting COVID-19 mortality rates
Volume 50 - Article 10    | Keywords: COVID-19, data collection, Facebook, mortality, North America, short-term mobility