Health and its transmission across generations
The Ruhr area has undergone dramatic structural changes in recent decades. Prior to the 1950s, the coal industry was the major industrial sector in the region, employing almost half a million workers. Since the decline of the steel industry in the 1980s, this number has fallen dramatically, which also led to a significant population reduction. While there are other demographically declining cities in Germany, especially in former East Germany, the Ruhr area is declining at one of the fastest rates and is unique in its agglomeration of demographically declining cities.
The aim of this project is to analyse the effect of living in a demographically declining region on health to identify the channel of this effect and how it is transmitted from one generation to next. First, we investigate which channels affect adult health. Stress, depression, and other psychological morbidities are expected to arise in demographically and economically declining environments, which may in turn lead to increased physical morbidity. Secondly, we examine whether psychological morbidity in parents is transmitted to the next generation, thereby potentially perpetuating the adverse health effects of geodemographic decline.
This project focuses in particular on the channel of non-genetic/environmental transmission, which could be either psychological or physical in nature. The results of the project are thus twofold. First, we will establish the adverse health effects for adults of living in a region in decline. Second, we will show whether and how these health effects of parents affect children’s health outcomes later in life.