Early life origins of health and well-being in modern Sweden

Detta är en avhandling från Department of Economic History, Lund University

Sammanfattning: Popular Abstract in English The aim of this thesis is to examine the role of early life environments for a variety of individual-level health and socioeconomic outcomes in contemporary Sweden. A research framework has recently emerged suggesting that individual long-term wellbeing is, to a large extent, dependent on the establishment of a healthy trajectory of growth and development during the early moments of life. This developmental paradigm is utilized in the thesis in order to explain individual differences in trajectories of intergenerational income mobility, entry into motherhood, childhood cognitive ability, life-time occupational attainment and, finally, late-life dementia risk, using data for contemporary Sweden. With respect to intergenerational mobility, it is shown that children born into unfavourable health environments report lower life-time earnings relative to their fathers. Similar types of exposure lower the hazard of transitioning into motherhood among contemporary Swedish women. Dementia risk is elevated among individuals with lower childhood cognitive ability, irrespective of their later-life improvements in terms of occupational attainment. Finally, compromised fetal brain development not only lowers elementary school performance, but also negatively affects long-run career prospects both directly and indirectly. The findings of this dissertation suggest that exposures interfering with optimal health development early in life indeed have implications for the long-run individual well-being in contemporary Sweden.