Modern technology empowers human beings to cope with various extreme weather events. Using Chinese historical data, we examine the impact of extreme weather on long-term human mortality in an environment where individuals had no access to modern technology. By combining life-course data on 5000 Chinese elites with historical weather data over the period 1–1840 AD, we find a significant and robust negative impact of droughts in childhood on the longevity of elites. Quantitatively, encountering three years of droughts in childhood reduces an elite's life span by about two years.
- Early-life conditions
- History of China