Intergenerational Resource Sharing and Mortality in a Global Perspective.

Tobias C. Vogt , MPI for Demographic Research
Fanny Kluge, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Ronald Lee, University of California, Berkeley

Resource sharing has always been a central component of human sociality. In childhood, heavy investments in human capital are required to prepare for adulthood. During working years, help from others is often needed due to illness, disability or bad luck. Hunter-gatherer elders assist their descendants, but more recently older people withdraw from work and require assistance as well. Thus we rely heavily on support from others. The willingness to share has deep biological roots. It has been critically important for our past evolutionary success and our present daily lives. In this study, we document a strong linear relationship between the sharing generosity of a society and the average length of life of its citizens. Our findings from 36 countries on all continents suggest that human survival chances improve in societies that provide more support and care for one another.

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 Presented in Session 64. Cross-National Comparisons in Aging