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Estimation of secular trends in adult height, and childhood socioeconomic circumstances in three Eastern European populations

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  • Webb, Elizabeth Alice
  • Kuh, Diana
  • Pajak, Andrzej
  • Kubinova, Ruzena
  • Malyutina, Sofia
  • Bobak, Martin

Abstract

The objective of these analyses was to estimate the strength and direction of secular trends in adult height and childhood socioeconomic circumstances in eight towns in three Eastern European countries in the mid-20th century, and to assess the extent to which childhood conditions might explain the height differences. We used cross-sectional data from the baseline survey of the Health, Alcohol and Psychosocial factors in Eastern Europe (HAPIEE) study, conducted in 2002-2005. The study examined 24,012 men and women born between 1933 and 1957, randomly selected from the general populations of Novosibirsk (Russia), Krakow (Poland) and six towns of the Czech Republic. To allow for age-related height loss we estimated maximum attained height. Parental education and household item ownership at age 10 were used as markers of childhood socioeconomic conditions. In all 5-year birth cohorts, Novosibirsk men and women were shortest. There were positive and statistically significant secular trends in childhood conditions and in maximum adult height. Adjustment for childhood conditions explained about one third of the trend in height. There appeared to be a small reduction in height of persons born during the Second World War which was, however, only significant in Novosibirsk. These results suggest that secular trends in height mirror, but are not wholly explained by, trends in socioeconomic circumstances in early life.

Suggested Citation

  • Webb, Elizabeth Alice & Kuh, Diana & Pajak, Andrzej & Kubinova, Ruzena & Malyutina, Sofia & Bobak, Martin, 2008. "Estimation of secular trends in adult height, and childhood socioeconomic circumstances in three Eastern European populations," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 228-236, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:6:y:2008:i:2:p:228-236
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cole, T. J., 2003. "The secular trend in human physical growth: a biological view," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, pages 161-168.
    2. John Komlos & Peter Kriwy, 2003. "The Biological Standard of Living in the Two Germanies," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 4, pages 459-473, November.
    3. Vignerova, J. & Brabec, M. & Blaha, P., 2006. "Two centuries of growth among Czech children and youth," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, pages 237-252.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Cvrcek, Tomas, 2009. "Inequality and living standards under early communism: Anthropometric evidence from Czechoslovakia, 1946-1966," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 436-449, October.
    3. Richmond, Tracy K. & Walls, Courtney E. & Subramanian, S.V., 2013. "The association of adolescent socioeconomic position and adult height: Variation across racial/ethnic groups," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, pages 178-184.
    4. Perkins, Jessica M. & Khan, Kashif T. & Smith, George Davey & Subramanian, S.V., 2011. "Patterns and trends of adult height in India in 2005-2006," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 184-193, March.
    5. Tucker-Seeley, Reginald D. & Subramanian, S.V., 2011. "Childhood circumstances and height among older adults in the United States," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 194-202, March.

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