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Nutrition and growth in Italy, 1861-1911: What macroeconomic data hide

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  • Vecchi, Giovanni
  • Coppola, Michela

Abstract

We investigate how nutritional status responded to economic growth in Italy during 1861-1911. By combining household-level data on food consumption with population censuses, we estimate that the incidence of undernutrition decreased by about 10-15 percent between 1881 and 1901. Consumption of calories responded elastically to income changes, although declining with the level of household income: on average, income elasticity of calories in 1901 was in the range of 0.3-0.6. Malnutrition, defined as the inadequate intake of macroand micro-nutritients, was reduced. Overall, our findings do not support the pessimists’ view, ubiquitous in the Italian literature. On the contrary, the early phase of Italian industrialization was beneficial to the nutritional status of the bulk of the population, and even more so for the poorest among the poor.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Explorations in Economic History.

Volume (Year): 43 (2006)
Issue (Month): 3 (July)
Pages: 438-464

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Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:43:y:2006:i:3:p:438-464

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622830

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Brian A’hearn & Franco Peracchi & Giovanni Vecchi, 2009. "Height and the normal distribution: evidence from italian military data," Demography, Springer, vol. 46(1), pages 1-25, February.
  2. Phiri, Andrew & Dube, Wisdom, 2014. "Nutrition and economic growth in South Africa: A momentum threshold autoregressive (MTAR) approach," MPRA Paper 52950, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Gianni Toniolo & Giovanni Vecchi, 2007. "Italian Children at Work, 1881-1961," Giornale degli Economisti, GDE (Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia), Bocconi University, vol. 66(3), pages 401-427, November.
  4. Dutta, Indranil & Gundersen, Craig & Pattanaik, Prasanta K., 2006. "Measures of Food Insecurity at the Household Level," Working Paper Series RP2006/95, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  5. Steckel, Richard H., 2009. "Heights and human welfare: Recent developments and new directions," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 1-23, January.

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