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The longevity of famous people from Hammurabi to Einstein

De la Croix, David; Licandro, Omar

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David De la Croix

Omar Licandro


We build a new sample of 300,000 famous people born between Hammurabi's epoch and Einstein's cohort, including their vital dates, occupations, and locations from the Index Bio-bibliographicus Notorum Hominum. We discuss and control for selection and composition biases. We show using this long-running consistent database that there was no trend in mortality during most of human history, confirming the existence of a Malthusian epoch; we date the beginning of the steady improvements in longevity to the cohort born in 1640-9, clearly preceding the Industrial Revolution, lending credence to the hypothesis that human capital may have played a significant role in the take-off to modern growth; we find that this timing of improvements in longevity concerns most countries in Europe and most skilled occupations.


De la Croix, D., & Licandro, O. (2015). The longevity of famous people from Hammurabi to Einstein. Journal of Economic Growth, 20(3),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 7, 2015
Online Publication Date Jun 19, 2015
Publication Date Sep 1, 2015
Deposit Date Jun 27, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jun 27, 2016
Journal Journal of Economic Growth
Print ISSN 1381-4338
Electronic ISSN 1381-4338
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Issue 3
Keywords Longevity, Notoriety, Malthus, Elite, Compensation Effect of Mortality, Enlightenment, Europe.
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Additional Information The final publication is available at Springer via


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