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Height Cycles in the 18th and 19th Centuries

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  • Ulrich Woitek

Abstract

In this paper, the cyclical structure of 19th century US and 18th- 19th century European height data is analyzed. Maximum Entropy spectral analysis of the physical stature of West Point cadets, Citadel students, African Americans, and Austrian soldiers reveals cyclical structure similar to the classical business cycle: a longer cycle with a length of 7-8 years, and a shorter cycle with a length of 3-5 years. The correlation between height cycles and cycles in economic variables, such as real wages or grain prices, indicates an influence of cycles in economic activity on physical stature. The phase shift between the cycles shows that economic conditions are especially important in infancy. In part this result is due to a cumulative effect: born into a recessionary period, a child is likely to face a second and third cyclical downturn at an age when the body is again sensitive to malnutrition.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow in its series Working Papers with number 9811.

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Date of creation: May 1998
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Handle: RePEc:gla:glaewp:9811

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Keywords: Business Cycles; Heights; Nutritional Status;

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References

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Cited by:
  1. Skoufias, Emmanuel & Vinha, Katja, 2012. "Climate variability and child height in rural Mexico," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 54-73.
  2. Carson, Scott Alan, 2011. "Was the 19th century stature-insolation relationship similar across independent samples? Evidence from soldiers and prisoners," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 199-207, April.
  3. van den Berg, Gerard J. & Pinger, Pia, 2014. "A Validation Study of Transgenerational Effects of Childhood Conditions on the Third Generation Offspring's Economic and Health Outcomes Potentially Driven by Epigenetic Imprinting," IZA Discussion Papers 7999, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Jacobs, Jan & Tassenaar, Vincent, 2003. "Height, income, and nutrition in the Netherlands: the second half of the 19th century," Research Report 03C35, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
  5. Brabec, Marek, 2005. "Analysis of periodic fluctuations of the height of Swedish soldiers in 18th and 19th centuries," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 1-16, March.
  6. 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.
  7. Lemmens, Aurélie & Croux, Christophe & Dekimpe, Marnik G., 2008. "Measuring and testing Granger causality over the spectrum: An application to European production expectation surveys," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 414-431.
  8. Cvrcek, Tomas, 2006. "Seasonal anthropometric cycles in a command economy: The case of Czechoslovakia, 1946-1966," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 317-341, December.
  9. Scott A. Carson, 2010. "Nineteenth Century US African-American and White Female Statures: Insight from US Prison Records," CESifo Working Paper Series 3169, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Maloney, Thomas N. & Carson, Scott Alan, 2008. "Living standards in Black and White: Evidence from the heights of Ohio Prison inmates, 1829-1913," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 237-251, July.
  11. Sunder, Marco, 2004. "The height of Tennessee convicts: another piece of the "antebellum puzzle"," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 75-86, March.
  12. Do, D. Phuong & Watkins, Daphne C. & Hiermeyer, Martin & Finch, Brian K., 2013. "The relationship between height and neighborhood context across racial/ethnic groups: A multi-level analysis of the 1999–2004 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 30-41.
  13. Baynouna, Latifa Mohammad & Revel, Anthony D. & Nagelkerke, Nico J.D. & Jaber, Tariq M. & Omar, Aziza O. & Ahmed, Nader M. & Naziruldeen, Mohammad K. & Al Sayed, Mamdouh F. & Nour, Fuad A. & Abdouni, , 2009. "Secular trend in height in Al Ain-United Arab Emirates," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 405-406, December.
  14. Komlos, John & Baten, Jörg, 2003. "Looking Backward and Looking Forward: Anthropometric Research and the Development of Social Science History," Discussion Papers in Economics 59, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  15. Schoch, Tobias & Staub, Kaspar & Pfister, Christian, 2012. "Social inequality and the biological standard of living: An anthropometric analysis of Swiss conscription data, 1875–1950," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 154-173.
  16. Sunder, Marco, 2013. "The height gap in 19th-century America: Net-nutritional advantage of the elite increased at the onset of modern economic growth," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 245-258.
  17. Komlos, John, 2012. "A Three-Decade “Kuhnian” History of the Antebellum Puzzle: Explaining the shrinking of the US population at the onset of modern economic growth," Discussion Papers in Economics 12758, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  18. Lemmens, A. & Croux, C. & Dekimpe, M.G., 2004. "Decomposing Granger Causality over the Spectrum," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2004-102-MKT, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
  19. Emmanuel Skoufias, 2012. "The Poverty and Welfare Impacts of Climate Change Quantifying the Effects, Identifying the Adaptation Strategies," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 9384, July.
  20. Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Strulik, Holger, 2007. "A Bioeconomic Foundation of the Malthusian Equilibrium: Body Size and Population Size in the Long-Run," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-373, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  21. Sunder, Marco & Woitek, Ulrich, 2005. "Boom, bust, and the human body: Further evidence on the relationship between height and business cycles," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 450-466, December.

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