The rise in life expectancies and retirement rates in the 20th century has had dramatic impacts. Forecasting future trends in health and retirement rates, as we must do now, requires that we investigate underlying long-term trends and their causes. To that end, this book draws on new data - an extensive longitudinal survey of Union Army veterans who were born between 1820 and 1850 - to examine the factors that affected health and labour force participation in 19th-century America. Contributors consider the impacts of social class, wealth, occupation, family and community on morbidity and mortality. Special topics include investigations of the influence of previous exposure to infectious disease, migration and community factors such as lead in water mains. The papers also analyze the roles of income, health and social class in retirement decisions, paying particular attention to the social context of disability. Economists and historians who specialize in demography or labour, as well as those who study public health, should welcome the unique contributions offered by this book.
Dora L. Costa is a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. She is the author of "The Evolution of Retirement: An American Economic History, 1880-1990," published by the University of Chicago Press.