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Infant mortality and the health of survivors: Britain, 1910–50

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  • TIMOTHY J. HATTON

Abstract

"The early decades of the twentieth century witnessed an intense debate over the key influences on the health of children and their subsequent fitness as adults. Most of the experts argued that an unfavourable disease environment led to high infant mortality and impaired health during childhood. A few suggested that the selection effect of infant mortality should have led to healthier survivors. Thus infant mortality could be related positively to subsequent health through a selection effect and negatively through a scarring effect. I examine these effects using town-level panel data on the heights of school children reported by school medical inspectors from 1910 to 1950. Econometric estimates provide no evidence for the selection effect but some support for the scarring effect. The results suggest that the improvement in the disease environment, as reflected by the decline in infant mortality, accounted for a quarter of the increase in average heights in the first half of the twentieth century."
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Suggested Citation

  • Timothy J. Hatton, 2011. "Infant mortality and the health of survivors: Britain, 1910–50," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(3), pages 951-972, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ehsrev:v:64:y:2011:i:3:p:951-972
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Millward, Robert & Bell, Frances N., 1998. "Economic factors in the decline of mortality in late nineteenth century Britain," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(03), pages 263-288, December.
    2. Williamson,Jeffrey G., 1990. "Coping with City Growth during the British Industrial Revolution," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521364805, April.
    3. Robert Millward & Frances Bell, 2001. "Infant Mortality in Victorian Britain: The Mother as Medium[Thanks are]," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 54(4), pages 699-733, November.
    4. repec:pri:rpdevs:https://rpds.princeton.edu/sites/rpds/files/media/deaton_bozzoli_child_mo is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Gørgens, Tue & Meng, Xin & Vaithianathan, Rhema, 2012. "Stunting and selection effects of famine: A case study of the Great Chinese Famine," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 99-111.
    6. Roderick Floud & Kenneth Wachter & Annabel Gregory, 1990. "Height, Health, and History: Nutritional Status in the United Kingdom, 1750-1980," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number flou90-1.
    7. repec:pri:rpdevs:deaton_bozzoli_child_mortality_income_height_march_07_complete_with_abstr is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:pri:cheawb:deaton_bozzoli_child_mortality_income_height_march_07_complete_with_abstr is not listed on IDEAS
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Akachi, Yoko & Canning, David, 2015. "Inferring the economic standard of living and health from cohort height: Evidence from modern populations in developing countries," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 114-128.
    2. Mariano Bosch & Carlos Bozzoli & Climent Quintana, 2009. "Infant mortality, income and adult stature in Spain," Working Papers 2009-27, FEDEA.
    3. Bailey, Roy E. & Hatton, Timothy J. & Inwood, Kris, 2016. "Atmospheric Pollution and Child Health in Late Nineteenth Century Britain," IZA Discussion Papers 10428, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Hatton, Timothy J., 2015. "Stature and Sibship: Historical Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 10675, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Víctor Hugo de Oliveira Sila & Climent Quintana, 2009. "Infant disease, economic conditions at birth and adult stature in Brazil," Working Papers 2009-33, FEDEA.
    6. Jaime Reis & Nuno Palma, 2018. "Can autocracy promote literacy? Evidence from a cultural alignment success story," The School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 1805, Economics, The University of Manchester.
    7. Hatton, Timothy J. & Martin, Richard M., 2010. "Fertility decline and the heights of children in Britain, 1886-1938," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 505-519, October.
    8. Schneider, Eric B. & Ogasawara, Kota, 2017. "Disease and child growth in industrialising Japan: assessing instantaneous changes in growth and changes in the growth pattern, 1911-39," Economic History Working Papers 84066, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    9. repec:eee:exehis:v:69:y:2018:i:c:p:64-80 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Bütikofer, Aline & Løken, Katrine V. & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2015. "Long-term consequences of access to well-child visits," Working Papers in Economics 09/15, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
    11. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:29:y:2018:i:c:p:198-210 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Coffey, Diane, 2015. "Early life mortality and height in Indian states," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 177-189.
    13. Butikofer, Aline & Loken, Katrine & Salvanes, Kjell G, 2018. "Infant Health Care and Long-Term," CEPR Discussion Papers 13064, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    14. Butikofer, Aline & Løken, Katrine & Salvanes, Kjell G, 2016. "Infant Health Care and Long-Term Outcomes," CEPR Discussion Papers 11652, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    15. Gao, Pei & Schneider, Eric B., 2019. "The growth pattern of British children, 1850-1975," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 100097, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    16. Bailey, Roy E & Hatton, Timothy J. & Inwood, Kris, 2014. "Health, Height and the Household at the Turn of the 20th Century," CEPR Discussion Papers 9959, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    17. de Beer, Hans, 2016. "The biological standard of living in Suriname, c. 1870–1975," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 140-154.
    18. Joseph Molitoris, 2017. "Disparities in death: Inequality in cause-specific infant and child mortality in Stockholm, 1878‒1926," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 36(15), pages 455-500, February.

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    • N00 - Economic History - - General - - - General

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