IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Health trends in Sub-Saharan Africa: Conflicting evidence from infant mortality rates and adult heights

  • Akachi, Yoko
  • Canning, David

We investigate trends in cohort infant mortality rates and adult heights in 39 developing countries since 1961. In most regions of the world improved nutrition, and reduced childhood exposure to disease, have lead to improvements in both infant mortality and adult stature. In Sub-Saharan Africa, however, despite declining infant mortality rates, adult heights have not increased. We argue that in Sub-Saharan Africa the decline in infant mortality may have been due to interventions that prevent infant deaths rather than improved nutrition and childhood morbidity. Despite declining infant mortality, Sub-Saharan Africa may not be experiencing increases in health human capital.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

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

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics & Human Biology.

Volume (Year): 8 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (July)
Pages: 273-288

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:8:y:2010:i:2:p:273-288
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Bloom, David E. & Canning, David & Sevilla, Jaypee, 2004. "The Effect of Health on Economic Growth: A Production Function Approach," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 1-13, January.
  2. Stephan Klasen, 2008. "Poverty, undernutrition, and child mortality: Some inter-regional puzzles and their implicationsfor research and policy," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 89-115, March.
  3. David Cutler & Angus Deaton & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2006. "The Determinants of Mortality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(3), pages 97-120, Summer.
  4. John Komlos & Benjamin E. Lauderdale, 2007. "Underperformance in Affluence: The Remarkable Relative Decline in U.S. Heights in the Second Half of the 20th Century," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 88(2), pages 283-305.
  5. T. Paul Schultz, 2004. "Wage Rentals for Reproducible Human Capital: Evidence from Ghana and the Ivory Coast," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm420, Yale School of Management.
  6. Rouanet, Léa & Cogneau, Denis, 2011. "Living Conditions in Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Western Africa 1925-1985: What do Survey Data on Height Stature tell us?," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/4300, Paris Dauphine University.
  7. 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.
  8. Gary S. Becker & Tomas J. Philipson & Rodrigo R. Soares, 2003. "The Quantity and Quality of Life and the Evolution of World Inequality," NBER Working Papers 9765, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Richard H. Steckel, 2008. "Biological Measures of the Standard of Living," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(1), pages 129-152, Winter.
  10. Blackwell, Debra L. & Hayward, Mark D. & Crimmins, Eileen M., 2001. "Does childhood health affect chronic morbidity in later life?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 52(8), pages 1269-1284, April.
  11. Carlos Bozzoli & Angus Deaton & Climent Quintana, 2008. "Adult height and childhood disease," Working Papers 2008-25, FEDEA.
    • Carlos Bozzoli & Angus Deaton & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2008. "Adult height and childhood disease," Working Papers 1119, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  12. T. Paul Schultz, 2003. "Human Capital, Schooling and Health Returns," Working Papers 853, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  13. 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.
  14. Johannes Gräb & Jan Priebe, 2009. "Low Malnutrition but High Mortality: Explaining the Paradox of the Lake Victoria Region," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 185, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.
  15. Richard H. Steckel, 1995. "Stature and the Standard of Living," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1903-1940, December.
  16. Alexander Moradi, 2008. "Towards an Objective Account of Nutrition and Health in Colonial Kenya: A Study of Stature in African Army Recruits and Civilians, 1880-1980," CSAE Working Paper Series 2008-04, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  17. Jacobs, Jan & Katzur, Tomek & Tassenaar, Vincent, 2008. "On estimators for truncated height samples," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 43-56, March.
  18. Schultz, T. Paul, 2005. "Productive Benefits of Health: Evidence from Low-Income Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 1482, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  19. McEvoy, Brian P. & Visscher, Peter M., 2009. "Genetics of human height," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 294-306, December.
  20. Peter C. B. Phillips & Hyungsik R. Moon, 1999. "Linear Regression Limit Theory for Nonstationary Panel Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(5), pages 1057-1112, September.
  21. David N. Well, 2007. "Accounting for the Effect Of Health on Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1265-1306.
  22. Yoko Akachi & David Canning, 2007. "The Height of Women in Sub-Saharan Africa: the Role of Health, Nutrition, and Income in Childhood," PGDA Working Papers 2207, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
  23. Gauri Kartini Shastry & David N. Weil, 2003. "How Much of Cross-Country Income Variation is Explained by Health?," Working Papers 2003-08, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  24. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2006. "Stature and Status: Height, Ability, and Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 12466, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Bos, Eduard & Vu, My T. & Stephens, Patience W., 1992. "Sources of World Bank estimates of current mortality rates," Policy Research Working Paper Series 851, The World Bank.
  26. Schultz, T. Paul, 2003. "Human capital, schooling and health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 207-221, June.
  27. Komlos, John, 1998. "Shrinking in a Growing Economy? The Mystery of Physical Stature during the Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 779-802, September.
  28. Svedberg, Peter, 2002. "Undernutrition Overestimated," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(1), pages 5-36, October.
  29. 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.
  30. Doyle, Orla & Harmon, Colm P. & Heckman, James J. & Tremblay, Richard E., 2009. "Investing in early human development: Timing and economic efficiency," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 1-6, March.
  31. T. Paul Schultz, 2002. "Wage Gains Associated with Height as a Form of Health Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 349-353, May.
  32. Peter J. Glick & David E. Sahn, 2008. "Are Africans Practicing Safer Sex? Evidence from Demographic and Health Surveys for Eight Countries," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 397-439.
  33. Moradi, Alexander & Baten, Joerg, 2005. "Inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa: New Data and New Insights from Anthropometric Estimates," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(8), pages 1233-1265, August.
  34. Svedberg, Peter, 2000. "Poverty and Undernutrition: Theory, Measurement, and Policy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292685, July.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:8:y:2010:i:2:p:273-288. 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: (Zhang, Lei)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.