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Long Run Health Impacts of Income Shocks: Wine and Phylloxera in 19th Century France

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  • Abhijit Banerjee
  • Esther Duflo
  • Gilles Postel-Vinay
  • Timothy M. Watts

Abstract

This paper provides estimates of the long-term effects on height and health of a large income shock experienced in early childhood. Phylloxera, an insect that attacks the roots of grape vines, destroyed 40% of French vineyards between 1863 and 1890, causing major income losses among wine growing families. Because the insects spread slowly from the southern coast of France to the rest of the country, Phylloxera affected different regions in different years. We exploit the regional variation in the timing of this shock to identify its effects. We examine the effects on the adult height, health, and life expectancy of children born in the years and regions affected by the Phylloxera. The shock decreased long run height, but it did not affect other dimensions of health, including life expectancy. We find that, at age 20, those born in affected regions were about 1.8 millimeters shorter than others. This estimate implies that children of wine-growing families born when the vines were affected in their regions were 0.6 to 0.9 centimeters shorter than others by age 20. This is a significant effect since average heights grew by only 2 centimeters in the entire 19th century. However, we find no other effect on health, including infant mortality, life expectancy, and morbidity by age 20.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12895.

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Date of creation: Feb 2007
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12895

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  1. Richard H. Steckel & Roderick Floud, 1997. "Health and Welfare during Industrialization," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number stec97-1, October.
  2. David M. Cutler & Angus S. Deaton & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2006. "The Determinants of Mortality," NBER Working Papers 11963, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Gabriele Doblhammer, 2003. "The late life legacy of very early life," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2003-030, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  4. Steckel, Richard H., 1986. "A Peculiar Population: The Nutrition, Health, and Mortality of American Slaves from Childhood to Maturity," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(03), pages 721-741, September.
  5. Robert Jensen, 2000. "Agricultural Volatility and Investments in Children," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 399-404, May.
  6. Gerard J. van den Berg & Maarten Lindeboom & France Portrait, 2006. "Economic Conditions Early in Life and Individual Mortality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 290-302, March.
  7. Esther Duflo, 2003. "Grandmothers and Granddaughters: Old-Age Pensions and Intrahousehold Allocation in South Africa," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(1), pages 1-25, June.
  8. Douglas Almond & Lena Edlund & Hongbin Li & Junsen Zhang, 2007. "Long-Term Effects Of The 1959-1961 China Famine: Mainland China and Hong Kong," NBER Working Papers 13384, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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