Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Height and the normal distribution: Evidence from Italian military data

Contents:

Author Info

Abstract

Height data offer insights into the well-being of populations and historical periods for which other indicators are lacking. Researchers modeling historical heights have typically relied on the restrictive assumption of a normal (Gaussian) distribution, only the mean of which is affected by age, income, nutrition, disease, and similar influences. We develop a different approach, in which covariates – age in particular – are allowed to affect the entire distribution without imposing any parametric shape. We apply this method to a new database of height distributions for Italian provinces drawn from conscription records. The data are of unprecedented length and geographic disaggregation, but suffer from a variety of statistical problems: variation in the age at measurement in particular. Our method allows us to standardize distributions to a single age and calculate moments of the distribution that are comparable through time. The distribution of heights at age 20 is not normal over most of our sample. Our method also allows us to generate counterfactual distributions for a range of ages, from which we derive age-height profiles. These reveal how the adolescent growth spurt (AGS) distorts the distribution of stature, and document the earlier and earlier onset of the AGS as living conditions improved over the second half of the nineteenth century. Our new estimates of provincial mean height also reveal a previously unnoticed “regime switch” from regional convergence to divergence in this period. In the light of this evidence, previous assumptions about regional economic development during Italian industrialization will need to be reexamined.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: ftp://www.ceistorvergata.it/repec/rpaper/RP124.pdf
File Function: Main text
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tor Vergata University, CEIS in its series CEIS Research Paper with number 124.

as in new window
Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: 14 Jul 2008
Date of revision: 14 Jul 2008
Handle: RePEc:rtv:ceisrp:124

Contact details of provider:
Postal: CEIS - Centre for Economic and International Studies - Faculty of Economics - University of Rome "Tor Vergata" - Via Columbia, 2 00133 Roma
Phone: +390672595601
Fax: +39062020687
Email:
Web page: http://www.ceistorvergata.it
More information through EDIRC

Order Information:
Postal: CEIS - Centre for Economic and International Studies - Faculty of Economics - University of Rome "Tor Vergata" - Via Columbia, 2 00133 Roma
Email:
Web: http://www.ceistorvergata.it

Related research

Keywords: Human height; normal distribution; semi-parametric modelling; Italy;

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Angus Deaton, 2008. "Height, Health, and Inequality: The Distribution of Adult Heights in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 468-74, May.
  2. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1998. "The Age of Mass Migration: Causes and Economic Impact," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195116519.
  3. Arcaleni, Emilia, 2006. "Secular trend and regional differences in the stature of Italians, 1854-1980," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 24-38, January.
  4. Danubio, Maria Enrica & Amicone, Elisa & Vargiu, Rita, 2005. "Height and BMI of Italian immigrants to the USA, 1908-1970," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 33-43, March.
  5. Vecchi, Giovanni & Coppola, Michela, 2006. "Nutrition and growth in Italy, 1861-1911: What macroeconomic data hide," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 438-464, July.
  6. Vittorio Daniele & Paolo Malanima, 2007. "Il prodotto delle regioni e il divario Nord-Sud in Italia (1861-2004)," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, vol. 97(2), pages 267-316, March-Apr.
  7. Robert W. Fogel, 1994. "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," NBER Working Papers 4638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Yoko Akachi & David Canning, 2007. "The Height of Women in Sub-Saharan Africa: the Role of Health, Nutrition, and Income in Childhood," PGDA Working Papers 2207, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
  9. Federico, Giovanni, 2003. "Heights, calories and welfare: a new perspective on Italian industrialization, 1854-1913," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 289-308, December.
  10. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2006. "Stature and status: Height, ability, and labor market outcomes," Working Papers 27, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  11. George J. Borjas, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 2248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Graziella Bertocchi & Monica Bozzano, 2012. "Women, Medieval Commerce, and the Education Gender Gap," CHILD Working Papers Series 10, Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic Economics (CHILD) - CCA.
  2. 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.
  3. Matteo Gomellini & Cormac O' Grada, 2011. "Outward and Inward Migrations in Italy: A Historical Perspective," Quaderni di storia economica (Economic History Working Papers) 08, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  4. repec:mod:depeco:0007 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Riggs, Paul & Cuff, Timothy, 2013. "Ladies from Hell, Aberdeen Free Gardeners, and the Russian influenza: An anthropometric analysis of WWI-era Scottish soldiers and civilians," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 69-77.
  6. Manfredini, Matteo & Breschi, Marco & Fornasin, Alessio & Seghieri, Chiara, 2013. "Height, socioeconomic status and marriage in Italy around 1900," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 465-473.
  7. Bodenhorn, Howard & Guinnane, Timothy W. & Mroz, Thomas A., 2013. "Problems of Sample-Selection Bias in the Historical Heights Literature: A Theoretical and Econometric Analysis," Working Papers 114, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  8. Andrea Brandolini & Giovanni Vecchi, 2011. "The Well-Being of Italians: A Comparative Historical Approach," Quaderni di storia economica (Economic History Working Papers) 19, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  9. Elisabetta De Cao, 2010. "The Height Production Function from Birth to Early Adulthood," CEIS Research Paper 165, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 28 May 2010.
  10. Emilia Arcaleni & Franco Peracchi, . "Early-life environment, eight and BMI of young adult males in Italy," Working Papers 4, Department of the Treasury, Ministry of the Economy and of Finance.
  11. Elisabetta De Cao, 2011. "The height production function from birth to early adulthood," Working Papers 043, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
  12. Peracchi, Franco & Arcaleni, Emilia, 2011. "Early-life environment, height and BMI of young men in Italy," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 251-264, July.
  13. Graziella Bertocchi & Monica Bozzano, 2013. "Family Structure and the Education Gender Gap: Evidence from Italian Provinces," CESifo Working Paper Series 4460, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. Agar Brugiavini & Franco Peracchi, 2012. "Health Status, Welfare Programs Participation, and Labor Force Activity in Italy," NBER Chapters, in: Social Security Programs and Retirement around the World: Historical Trends in Mortality and Health, Employment, and Disability Insurance Participatio, pages 175-215 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:rtv:ceisrp:124. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Barbara Piazzi).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.