Early-life environment, height and BMI of young men in Italy
Abstract This paper explores the relationship between the two main dimensions of early-life environment, namely disease burden (measured by infant mortality) and economic conditions (measured by income or consumption per capita), and height and body-mass index (BMI) for six annual cohorts of young Italian men born between 1973 and 1978. By combining micro-level data on height and weight with regional- and province-level information, we are able to link individual height and BMI at age 18 to regional and provincial averages of environmental variables in the year of birth. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that, in rich low-mortality settings, the negative effects of childhood disease dominate the positive selection effects of mortality. We find that both income and disease matter, although income matters more than disease for height, while the opposite is true for BMI.
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