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Nutrition And Growth In Italy, 1861-1911 What Macroeconomic Data Hide

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  • Giovanni Vecchi

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  • Michela Coppola

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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Paper provided by Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Historia Económica e Instituciones in its series Working Papers in Economic History with number wh043101.

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Date of creation: Jun 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cte:whrepe:wh043101

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  1. Fogel, Robert William, 1993. "New findings on secular trends in nutrition and mortality: Some implications for population theory," Handbook of Population and Family Economics, Elsevier, in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 9, pages 433-481 Elsevier.
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Cited by:
  1. Brian A'Hearn & Franco Peracchi & Giovanni Vecchi, 2008. "Height and the normal distribution: Evidence from Italian military data," CEIS Research Paper, Tor Vergata University, CEIS 124, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 14 Jul 2008.
  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, 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, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER) RP2006/95, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  5. Brian A'Hearn & Tony Venables, 2011. "Internal Geography and External Trade: regional disparities in Italy, 1861-2011," Economics Series Working Papers, University of Oxford, Department of Economics 578, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.

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