IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Early life environment and adult height: The case of Chile


  • Borrescio-Higa, Florencia
  • Bozzoli, Carlos Guillermo
  • Droller, Federico


In this paper, we analyze the relationship between adult height and early-life disease environment, proxied by the infant mortality rate (IMR) in the first year of life, using cohort-region level data for Chile for 1960–1989. IMRs show a remarkable reduction of 100 points per thousand over this thirty-year period, declining from 119.4 to 21.0 per thousand. We also document a 0.96 cm increase in height per decade.We find that the drop in IMRs observed among our cohorts explains almost all of the long-term trend in rising adult heights, and that per capita GDP does not appear to have any predictive power in this context. Results are robust in a variety of specifications, which include area and cohort dummies, an adjustment for internal migration, and urbanization rates. Our results point to the long-term effect of a public health policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Borrescio-Higa, Florencia & Bozzoli, Carlos Guillermo & Droller, Federico, 2019. "Early life environment and adult height: The case of Chile," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 134-143.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:33:y:2019:i:c:p:134-143
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2018.11.003

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Schneider, Eric B. & Ogasawara, Kota, 2018. "Disease and child growth in industrialising Japan: Critical windows and the growth pattern, 1917–39," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 64-80.
    2. Carlos Bozzoli & Angus Deaton & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2009. "Adult height and childhood disease," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 46(4), pages 647-669, November.
    3. Joerg Baten & Matthias Blum, 2014. "Why are you tall while others are short? Agricultural production and other proximate determinants of global heights," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(2), pages 144-165.
    4. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2008. "Stature and Status: Height, Ability, and Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(3), pages 499-532, June.
    5. repec:pri:rpdevs:deaton_height_health_inequality_revised_ack_jan08.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Núñez, Javier & Pérez, Graciela, 2015. "Trends in physical stature across socioeconomic groups of Chilean boys, 1880–1997," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 16(C), pages 100-114.
    7. Quintana-Domeque, Climent & Bozzoli, Carlos & Bosch, Mariano, 2012. "The evolution of adult height across Spanish regions, 1950–1980: A new source of data," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 264-275.
    8. repec:pri:rpdevs:deaton_height_health_and_inequality_the_distribution_of_adult_heights_in_ is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:pri:rpdevs:deaton_height_health_and_inequality_the_distribution_of_adult_heights_in_india_aerpp.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    10. 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.
    11. Baten, Jörg & Komlos, John, 1998. "Height and the Standard of Living," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(3), pages 866-870, September.
    12. Baten, Joerg & Pelger, Ines & Twrdek, Linda, 2009. "The anthropometric history of Argentina, Brazil and Peru during the 19th and early 20th century," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 319-333, December.
    13. Llorca-Jaña, Manuel & Navarrete-Montalvo, Juan & Droller, Federico & Araya-Valenzuela, Roberto, 2018. "Height in eighteenth-century Chilean men: Evidence from military records, 1730–1800s," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 168-178.
    14. Angus Deaton, 2008. "Height, Health, and Inequality: The Distribution of Adult Heights in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 468-474, May.
    15. Fogel, Robert W, 1994. "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 369-395, June.
    16. Brieba, Daniel, 2018. "State Capacity and Health Outcomes: Comparing Argentina’s and Chile’s Reduction of Infant and Maternal Mortality, 1960–2013," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 37-53.
    17. Deaton, Angus & Arora, Raksha, 2009. "Life at the top: The benefits of height," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 133-136, July.
    18. de Oliveira, Victor Hugo & Quintana-Domeque, Climent, 2014. "Early-life environment and adult stature in Brazil: An analysis for cohorts born between 1950 and 1980," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 15(C), pages 67-80.
    19. Coffey, Diane, 2015. "Early life mortality and height in Indian states," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 177-189.
    20. Roberto Duncan & J. Rodrigo Fuentes, 2005. "Convergencia Regional en Chile: Nuevos Tests, Viejos Resultados," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 313, Central Bank of Chile.
    21. repec:pri:cheawb:deaton_height_health_inequality_revised_ack_jan08.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Andreas Schick & Richard H. Steckel, 2015. "Height, Human Capital, and Earnings: The Contributions of Cognitive and Noncognitive Ability," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(1), pages 94-115.
    23. Richard H. Steckel, 1995. "Stature and the Standard of Living," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1903-1940, December.
    24. Quintana-Domeque, Climent & Bozzoli, Carlos & Bosch, Mariano, 2011. "Infant mortality and adult stature in Spain," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(11), pages 1893-1903, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


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

    Cited by:

    1. Llorca-Jaña, Manuel & Clarke, Damian & Navarrete-Montalvo, Juan & Araya-Valenzuela, Roberto & Allende, Martina, 2020. "New anthropometric evidence on living standards in nineteenth-century Chile," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 36(C).
    2. David Escamilla-Guerrero & Moramay Lopez-Alonso, 2020. "Migrant self-selection in the presence of random shocks. Evidence from the Panic of 1907," Oxford Economic and Social History Working Papers _179, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    3. Manuel Llorca-Jaña & Juan Navarrete-Montalvo & Roberto Araya-Valenzuela & Federico Droller & Martina Allende & Javier Rivas, 0. "Height in twentieth-century Chilean men: growth with divergence," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 0, pages 1-32.

    More about this item


    Adult height; Infant mortality; Income; Developing country;

    JEL classification:

    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • O54 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Latin America; Caribbean


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:33:y:2019:i:c:p:134-143. 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: (Haili He). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.