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The North Korean standard of living during the famine


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  • Schwekendiek, Daniel
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    For decades, North Korea has been one of the world's most secluded societies. Due to a lack of reliable statistics, little analytical research has been done on the well-being of those who suffer most under totalitarianism: the North Korean people. By considering height data as a sensitive indicator of the North Korean standard of living, we explain what has historically influenced the welfare of children in different regions. Using cross-sectional data from 1997 when the peak of the infamous famine coincided with extreme environmental influences, we primarily test a number of socioeconomic hypotheses that have been proposed in the literature. Of these, the public distribution system and local harvest conditions--which may reflect black and gray market activity--were found as having a positive and statistically significant effect on height outcomes. Furthermore, from a biological point of view, males and older birth cohorts seem to have suffered more during the famine of the 1990s.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 66 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 3 (February)
    Pages: 596-608

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:66:y:2008:i:3:p:596-608

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    Keywords: North Korea East-Asia Standard of living Health Famine Anthropometry;


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    Cited by:
    1. Pak, Sunyoung, 2010. "The growth status of North Korean refugee children and adolescents from 6 to 19 years of age," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 385-395, December.
    2. David Shim, 2010. "How Signifying Practices Constitute Food (In)security The Case of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea," GIGA Working Paper Series 122, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
    3. Richard H. Steckel, 2008. "Heights and Human Welfare: Recent Developments and New Directions," NBER Working Papers 14536, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Schwekendiek, Daniel & Pak, Sunyoung, 2009. "Recent growth of children in the two Koreas: A meta-analysis," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 109-112, March.


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