- Mortality and Economic Growth
FRB of St. Louis
This essay explores the relationship between economic growth and the evolution of mortality across countries between 1960 and 2019. The data are from the World Bank‘s World Development Indicators and Health Nutrition and Population Statistics; they are for a group of 86 countries for which there exist annual data on real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and two measures of mortality―the crude death rate and life expectancy at birth.1
I excluded China from the sample as its demography during this period is abnormal for at least two reasons. First, during the Great Leap Forward (1958-62) and the ensuing famine, China‘s mortality increased by 150% in a span of a few years.2 Second, the one-child policy is largely documented to have had negative consequences on births, the male-to-female ratio, and infant mortality―particularly that of girls.3 The sample, excluding China, covers 74% of the population, 78% of deaths, and 79% of GDP in 1960. In 2019, these numbers are 78%, 76%, and 81%, respectively.