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Height, education and later-life cognition in Latin America and the Caribbean


  • Maurer, Jürgen


Building on previous evidence from the U.S., this study investigates the relationship between anthropometric markers (height and knee height), early-life conditions, education, and cognitive function in later life among urban elderly from Latin America and the Caribbean. I document a positive association between height and later-life cognitive function, which is larger for women than for men. This sex difference increases when I address potential feedback effects from mid- and later-life circumstances on stature by using knee height as an instrument for height. Specifically, while the estimates for women remain largely unchanged, I only find a diminished and statistically insignificant association between instrumented height and later-life cognition for men. This finding suggests that at least part of the association between height and later-life cognition among men may stem from common third factors that are correlated with both height and later-life cognition, such as adverse occupational exposures or health events during mid- and later life. Extended models that also include education further diminish the association between height and later-life cognition. Education displays strong positive gradients with the employed measures of childhood circumstances - including height - which points to education as a potential pathway linking early-life conditions and later-life cognitive function.

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  • Maurer, Jürgen, 2010. "Height, education and later-life cognition in Latin America and the Caribbean," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 168-176, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:8:y:2010:i:2:p:168-176

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. Jürgen Maurer, 2011. "Education and Male-Female Differences in Later-Life Cognition: International Evidence From Latin America and the Caribbean," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 48(3), pages 915-930, August.
    5. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2008. "Height, Health, and Cognitive Function at Older Ages," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 463-467, May.
    6. Robert William Fogel, 1993. "New Sources and New Techniques for the Study of Secular Trends in Nutritional Status, Health, Mortality, and the Process of Aging," NBER Historical Working Papers 0026, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    8. Peck, Maria Nyström & Lundberg, Olle, 1995. "Short stature as an effect of economic and social conditions in childhood," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 41(5), pages 733-738, September.
    9. Kathryn Yount, 2008. "Gender, resources across the life course, and cognitive functioning in Egypt," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 45(4), pages 907-926, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tom S. Vogl, 2012. "Education and Health in Developing Economies," Working Papers 1453, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
    2. Alan Fernihough & Mark E. McGovern, 2013. "A Tall Story: Characteristics, Causes, and Consequences of Stature Loss," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp429, IIIS.
    3. Osea Giuntella & Wei Han & Fabrizio Mazzonna, 2017. "Circadian Rhythms, Sleep, and Cognitive Skills: Evidence From an Unsleeping Giant," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(5), pages 1715-1742, October.
    4. Luis Aranda & Martin Siyaranamual, 2014. "Are Smarter People Better Samaritans? Effect of Cognitive Abilities on Pro-Social Behaviors," Working Papers 2014:06, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
    5. Wei Huang & Xiaoyan Lei & Geert Ridder & John Strauss & Yaohui Zhao, 2013. "Health, Height, Height Shrinkage, and SES at Older Ages: Evidence from China," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 86-121, April.
    6. repec:pri:rpdevs:vogl_ed_health_review is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Padmaja Ayyagari & David Frisvold, 2016. "The Impact of Social Security Income on Cognitive Function at Older Ages Full Access," American Journal of Health Economics, MIT Press, vol. 2(4), pages 463-488, Fall.
    8. Velamuri, Malathi & Onur, Ilke, 2014. "A Life-Course Perspective on Gender Differences in Cognitive Functioning in India," MPRA Paper 59776, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Mosca, Irene & Wright, Robert E., 2016. "Height and cognition at older ages: Irish evidence," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 98-101.
    10. Fernihough, Alan & McGovern, Mark E., 2015. "Physical stature decline and the health status of the elderly population in England," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 16(C), pages 30-44.
    11. Nina Wald, 2014. "The Impact of Displacement on Child Health: Evidence from Colombia's DHS 2010," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1420, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    12. repec:eee:joecag:v:6:y:2015:i:c:p:13-23 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. repec:eee:joecag:v:4:y:2014:i:c:p:114-125 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Chen, Wen-Yi, 2016. "On the relationship between economic conditions around the time of birth and late life cognitive abilities: Evidence from Taiwan," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 126-139.
    15. Padmaja Ayyagari & David Frisvold, 2015. "The Impact of Social Security Income on Cognitive Function at Older Ages," NBER Working Papers 21484, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.


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