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Stunting and selection effects of famine: A case study of the Great Chinese Famine

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  • Gørgens, Tue
  • Meng, Xin
  • Vaithianathan, Rhema

Abstract

Many developing countries experience famine. If survival is related to height, the increasingly common practice of using height as a measure of well-being may be misleading. We devise a novel method for disentangling the stunting from the selection effects of famine. Using data from the 1959–1961 Great Chinese Famine, we find that taller children were more likely to survive the famine. Controlling for selection, we estimate that children under the age of five who survived the famine grew up to be 1 to 2cm shorter. Our results suggest that if a country experiences a shock such as famine, average height is potentially a biased measure of economic conditions during childhood.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 97 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 99-111

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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:97:y:2012:i:1:p:99-111

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/devec

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Keywords: Famine; Height; China; Panel data;

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