National Independence, Women's Political Participation, and Life Expectancy in Norway

Published In: Social Science and Medicine, v. 70, no. 9, May 2010, p. 1350-1357

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2010

by Jenna Nobles, Ryan Andrew Brown, Ralph C. Catalano

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This study investigates the role of national independence and women's political participation on population health using historical lifespan data from Norway. We use time-series methods to analyze data measuring the actual length of time lived by Norwegian birth cohorts spanning a 61 year period surrounding the political emancipation of Norway from Sweden in 1905 and the establishment of a Norwegian monarchy in 1906. The use of a discrete, historical event improves our ability to interpret the population health effects of national independence and women's political participation as causal. We find a large and significant positive effect on the lifespan of Norwegian females born in the 1906 cohort. Interestingly, the effect does not extend to all living females during the Norwegian drive toward sovereignty. We conclude that the beneficial effects were likely conferred through intrauterine biological transfers and/or neonatal investments specific to the first year of life.

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