Economic conditions at birth and cardiovascular disease risk in adulthood: Evidence from post-1950 cohorts

Rob J.M. Alessie, Viola Angelini, Gerard J. van den Berg, Jochen O. Mierau, Laura Viluma*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Much of the literature that studies long-run effects of early-life economic conditions on health outcomes is based on pre-1940 birth cohorts. Early in these individuals’ lives, public social safety nets were at best rudimentary, and female labor force participation was relatively low. We complement the evidence by studying the effects of regional business cycle variations in the post-1950 Netherlands on cardiovascular disease risk in adulthood. We use data from Lifelines, a large cohort study that covers socio-economic, biological and health information from over 75,000 individuals aged between 20 and 63. Cardiovascular risk index is constructed from an extensive set of biomarkers. The results show that for women a 1 percentage point increase in the provincial unemployment level leads to a 0.02 percentage point increase in the risk of a fatal cardiovascular event in the coming 10 years while the effect in men is not significant. We conclude that women born in adverse economic conditions experience higher cardiovascular risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-84
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Early online date5 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Biomarkers
  • Developmental origins
  • Early-life conditions
  • Health
  • Long-run effects
  • Recession
  • Unemployment


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