Long-Term Economic Growth and the Standard of Living in Indonesia
This paper analyses the relationship between economic growth and improvements in the standard of living, indicated by average heights. It uses four sets of anthropometric data to construct time series of average human height since the 1770s. The paper observes a significant decline of heights in the 1870s, followed by only modest recovery during the next three decades. Both are related to a sequence of disasters. Average heights increased from the 1900s, accelerating after World War II. The Japanese occupation and war of independence in the 1940s were a set-back. Average height growth is related to improvements in food supply and the disease environment, particularly hygiene and medical care. GDP per capita and average height followed each other in broad terms, but the correlation is far from perfect. The paper offers several hypotheses to explain this fact.
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