Early Life-Conditions and Older Adult Health, Behavior and Well-Being includes the exploration of early developmental circumstances that may be crucial for shaping how we age, including nutrition, infectious disease, social support, education, and gene-environment interactions prenatally and during childhood. This theme 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, proposed pilots, and innovative networks.
In 1992, Elo and Preston published a review article on Effects of Early-Life Conditions on Adult Mortality that advanced the study of early life influences on adult health outcomes in the social sciences, and research under this theme has continued to be central to the work of PARC Associates in high-, middle- and low-income countries. An example of research under this theme is Behrman’s work relating child development to human capital acquisition and their joint influence on subsequent health outcomes and cognition using data from Guatemala. Other examples include Elo's research on early life conditions and mortality and familial correlations in cause-specific mortality. Hoke’s research among indigenous populations in the Andes (Ecuador and Peru) examining the effects of political economic shifts on health and daily life in pre-historic and contemporary populations. Perez’s work examines the role of the environmental conditions in healthy aging. The life-course perspective is also central to the research of others (e.g., Boen, I Kohler, H-P Kohler, Venkataramani).