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Economics Seminar Series – Dr. Hoyt Bleakley from University of Michigan

Dr. Hoyt Bleakley from University of Michigan will be presenting his paper, “Longevity, Education, and Income: How Large is the Triangle?” this Friday, October 28, 2016. It will be held in Fronczak 444 from 3:30pm – 5:00pm with a small reception to follow in Fronczak 426. All are invited to attend.


While health affects economic development through a variety of pathways, one commonly suggested mechanism is a “horizon” channel in which increased longevity induces additional education. A recent literature devotes much attention to how much education responds to increasing longevity, but this study asks instead what impact this specific channel has on income. I note that death is like a tax on human-capital investments, which suggests the use of a standard public-finance tool: triangles. I construct estimates of the triangle gain if education adjusts to lower adult mortality. Even for implausibly large responses of education to survival differences, almost all of today’s low-human-development countries would gain less than 15% of income through this channel if switched to Japan’s survival curve. Similarly, increased survival in the 20th-century USA generates a triangle less than 5% of initial income. Calibrating the model with well-identified micro- and cohort-level studies, I find that the horizon triangle for the typical low-income country is at most a percent or two of income.