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The Measure of Man and Older Age Mortality: Evidence from the Gould Sample

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  • COSTA, DORA L.

Abstract

This article documents differences in body size between white, black, and Indian mid-nineteenth-century American men and investigates the socioeconomic and demographic determinants of frame size using a unique data set of Civil War soldiers. It finds that over time men have grown taller and heavier and have relatively less abdominal fat, implying that “modern†chronic diseases such as ischemic heart disease were common in the past. Changes in frame size explain almost half of the mortality decline among white men between 1914 and 1988 and predict even sharper declines in older age mortality between 1988 and 2022.

Suggested Citation

  • Costa, Dora L., 2004. "The Measure of Man and Older Age Mortality: Evidence from the Gould Sample," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 64(1), pages 1-23, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:64:y:2004:i:01:p:1-23_00
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Joseph M. Prince & Richard H. Steckel, 2001. "Tallest in the World: Native Americans of the Great Plains in the Nineteenth Century," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 287-294, March.
    2. Dora Costa & Richard H. Steckel, 1997. "Long-Term Trends in Health, Welfare, and Economic Growth in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: Health and Welfare during Industrialization, pages 47-90, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Robert Fogel & Dora Costa, 1997. "A theory of technophysio evolution, with some implications for forecasting population, health care costs, and pension costs," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 34(1), pages 49-66, February.
    4. Dora Costa, 2000. "Understanding the twentieth-century decline in chronic conditions among older men," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 37(1), pages 53-72, February.
    5. Costa Dora L., 1993. "Height, Weight, Wartime Stress, and Older Age Mortality: Evidence from the Union Army Records," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 424-449, October.
    6. Goldin, Claudia & Margo, Robert A., 1989. "The poor at birth: Birth weights and infant mortality at Philadelphia's almshouse hospital, 1848-1873," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 360-379, July.
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    9. Costa, Dora L., 2003. "Understanding mid-life and older age mortality declines: evidence from Union Army veterans," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 112(1), pages 175-192, January.
    10. 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(3), pages 721-741, September.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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