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Poor, hungry and ignorant: Numeracy and the impact of high food prices in industrializing Britain, 1780-1850

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  • Jörg Baten
  • Dorothee Crayen
  • Joachim Voth

    ()

Abstract

This paper uses the ability to recall one’s age correctly as an indicator of numeracy. We show that low levels of nutrition impaired numeracy in industrializing England, 1780-1850. Numeracy declined markedly among those born during the war years, especially where wheat was dear. England’s nascent welfare state mitigated the negative effect of high food prices on cognitive skills. Nutrition during early development mattered for labor market outcomes: individuals born in periods or countries with high age heaping were more likely to sort into occupations with limited intellectual requirements.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 1120.

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Date of creation: Oct 2007
Date of revision: Dec 2011
Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1120

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Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

Related research

Keywords: Nutrition; cognitive development; age heaping; numeracy; occupational choice; Industrial Revolution; social spending; poverty traps; effects of war.;

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  7. A'Hearn, Brian & Baten, Jörg & Crayen, Dorothee, 2009. "Quantifying Quantitative Literacy: Age Heaping and the History of Human Capital," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 7277, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2006. "Stature and Status: Height, Ability, and Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 12466, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Blog mentions

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  1. Enquete: o melhor título de paper
    by Leonardo Monasterio in Blog do Leonardo Monasterio on 2009-02-28 11:31:00
  2. Poll: the best title for an Economics paper
    by Leonardo Monasterio in Leonardo Monasterio's Blog on 2009-02-28 11:40:00
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Cited by:
  1. Jörg Baten & Johan Fourie, 2012. "Slave numeracy in the Cape Colony and comparative development in the eighteenth century," Working Papers 270, Economic Research Southern Africa.

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