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Trends in the association between height and socioeconomic indicators in France, 1970-2003

  • Singh-Manoux, Archana
  • Gourmelen, Julie
  • Ferrie, Jane
  • Silventoinen, Karri
  • Guéguen, Alice
  • Stringhini, Silvia
  • Nabi, Hermann
  • Kivimaki, Mika
Registered author(s):

    Average physical stature has increased dramatically during the 20th century in many populations across the world with few exceptions. It remains unclear if social inequalities in height persist despite improvements in living standards in the welfare economies of Western Europe. We examined trends in the association between height and socioeconomic indicators in adults over three decades in France. The data were drawn from the French Decennial Health Surveys: a multistage, stratified, random survey of households, representative of the population, conducted in 1970, 1980, 1991, and 2003. We categorised age into 10-year bands, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54 and 55-64 years. Education and income were the two socioeconomic measures used. The slope index of inequality (SII) was used as a summary index of absolute social inequalities in height. The results show that average height increased over this period; men and women aged 25-34 years were 171.9 and 161.2Â cm tall in 1970 and 177.0 and 164.0Â cm in 2003, respectively. However, education-related inequalities in height remained unchanged over this period and in men were 4.48Â cm (1970), 4.71Â cm (1980), 5.58Â cm (1991) and 4.69Â cm (2003), the corresponding figures in women were 2.41, 2.37, 3.14 and 2.96Â cm. Income-related inequalities in height were smaller and much attenuated after adjustment for education. These results suggest that in France, social inequalities in adult height in absolute terms have remained unchanged across the three decades under examination.

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

    Volume (Year): 8 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 3 (December)
    Pages: 396-404

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:8:y:2010:i:3:p:396-404
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622964

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    1. Komlos, John & Hau, Michel & Bourginat, Nicolas, 2003. "An Anthropometric History of Early-Modern France," Discussion Papers in Economics 54, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    2. Angus S. Deaton & Raksha Arora, 2009. "Life at the top: the benefits of height," NBER Working Papers 15090, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. de Saint Pol, Thibaut, 2009. "Evolution of obesity by social status in France, 1981-2003," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 398-404, December.
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    5. Cole, T. J., 2003. "The secular trend in human physical growth: a biological view," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 161-168, June.
    6. Batty, G. David & Shipley, Martin J. & Gunnell, David & Huxley, Rachel & Kivimaki, Mika & Woodward, Mark & Lee, Crystal Man Ying & Smith, George Davey, 2009. "Height, wealth, and health: An overview with new data from three longitudinal studies," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 137-152, July.
    7. Costa-Font, Joan & Gil, Joan, 2008. "Generational effects and gender height dimorphism in contemporary Spain," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 1-18, March.
    8. Herpin, Nicolas, 2005. "Love, careers, and heights in France, 2001," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 420-449, December.
    9. Smith, Patricia K. & Bogin, Barry & Varela-Silva, Maria Ines & Loucky, James, 2003. "Economic and anthropological assessments of the health of children in Maya immigrant families in the US," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 145-160, June.
    10. McEvoy, Brian P. & Visscher, Peter M., 2009. "Genetics of human height," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 294-306, December.
    11. Hallqvist, Johan & Lynch, John & Bartley, Mel & Lang, Thierry & Blane, David, 2004. "Can we disentangle life course processes of accumulation, critical period and social mobility? An analysis of disadvantaged socio-economic positions and myocardial infarction in the Stockholm Heart Ep," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 58(8), pages 1555-1562, April.
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