Early-life conditions and older adult health, behavior and well-being

Early-life conditions and older adult health, behavior and well-being is firmly rooted in understanding aging as a process, rather than a discrete stage. Many of us use a life-course framework, relating current status to earlier life decisions. This theme both feeds from and lies at the interface of several relevant disciplines such as demography, economics, evolutionary biology, and anthropology. It is clear now that early developmental circumstances, even in utero, powerfully affect adult and old-age health and mortality outcomes. PARC’s focus on this theme is reflected in three main areas: its Associate’s specific research agendas (Behrman, Cunha, Duckworth, Elo, Fernandez-Villaverde, Fernandez-Duque, Valeggia), proposed pilots (Behrman, Stein & Cunha), and innovative networks (Network on Effects of Early Life on Mature Adults). For example, in the economics realm, shifting paradigms have provided a natural platform for economists to relate child development to human capital acquisition and the quality of the future labor supply. This approach is a trademark of Behrman’s work in low- and middle-income countries. Together with Cunha and colleagues at Emory and INCAP, Behrman will carry out a pilot study that will develop an economic-based framework for analyzing the relations between early life and adulthood. Other examples of research on this signature theme include Duckworth’s work on early psychological predictors of success in adult life, Elo’s research on early life conditions and familial correlations in cause-specific mortality, and Valeggia’s research on early life environments and reproductive aging.