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The findings on the relation between economic development and life expectancy at birth have long been contradictory. In the theoretical model and data analysis presented in this video it is shown that prolongation of life expectancy is a turning point for economic development: As UWE SUNDE explains, the effect of life expectancy on income is negative before the transition to low birth and death rates, and positive afterwards. The findings show that investments in health are crucial to trigger the development of countries.


Uwe Sunde is Professor of Population Economics at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich with research interests including long-term development and behavioral economics. Before joining the LMU, he has held the position of Director at the Swiss Institute for Empirical Economic Research and was Professor of macroeconomics at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. In 2015, he received the Gossen Prize which is awarded annually to a German-speaking economist whose strong research gained international recognition. 


Original publication

The Economic and Demographic Transition, Mortality, and Comparative Development

Cervellati Matteo and Uwe Sunde
American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics
Published in 2015

Life Expectancy and Economic Growth: The Role of the Demographic Transition

Cervellati Matteo and Sunde Uwe
Journal of Economic Growth
Published in 2011

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