Where do people live longer?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Downloads (Pure)


Can historical exposures of non-European countries to European migrants explain part of their current health outcomes? We find that higher European share of the colonial population robustly raised life expectancy and reduced both fertility and infant mortality rates of present-day population in these former colonies. Specifically, after controlling for other plausible determinants, our baseline results imply that, on average, countries at the 95th percentile of the European share of the colonial population, compared to those at the 5th percentile, live 17 years longer, have 1 less child, and experience 54 fewer infant deaths per 1000 live births. A causal interpretation is given to these results by considering various identification strategies. Overall, our results indicate that health fortunes around the world, on average, improved because of European colonial settlers and that differences in the current levels of health performance can be traced back to differential levels of European colonial settlements, where countries that experienced higher influx of colonial Europeans have better health prosperity nowadays than countries with lower inflow of colonial Europeans. A puzzlement arises, however, as countries with no colonial European settlements have outperformed countries with low colonial European settlements. Thus, explaining this phenomenon and exploring how historical migration holds such an enduring influence on the health of nations today opens up an important avenue for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-44
Number of pages24
JournalResearch in Economics
Issue number1
Early online date1 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


  • History
  • Migration
  • European colonial population
  • Longevity
  • Fertility
  • Mortality


Dive into the research topics of 'Where do people live longer?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this