Generational Effects on Adult Height in Contemporary Spain: Exploring Gender and Individual Heterogeneity
As adult height is a well-established retrospective measure of health and standard of living, it is important to understand the factors that determine it. Among them, the influence of socio-environmental factors has been subjected to empirical scrutiny. This paper explores the influence of generational (or environmental) effects and individual and gender-specific heterogeneity on adult height. Our data set is from contemporary Spain, a country governed by an authoritarian regime between 1939 and 1977. First, we use normal position and quantile regression analysis to identify the determinants of self-reported adult height and to measure the influence of individual heterogeneity. Second, we use a Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition approach to explain the gender height gap and its distribution, so as to measure the influence on this gap of individual heterogeneity. Our findings suggest a significant increase in adult height in the generations that benefited from the countrys economic liberalization in the 1950s, and especially those brought up after the transition to democracy in the 1970s. In contrast, distributional effects on height suggest that only in recent generations has height increased more among the tallest. Although the mean gender height gap is 11 cm, generational effects and other controls such as individual capabilities explain on average roughly 5% of this difference, a figure that rises to 10% in the lowest 10% quantile.
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