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Obesity in Black and White: Accounting for 19th Century US BMI Differences by Socioeconomic Status and Biology

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  • Scott A. Carson

Abstract

Little research exists on late 19th and early 20th century US body mass index value differences by race, and darker complexions were associated with greater BMI values. Mulattos had greater BMI returns associated with socioeconomic characteristics, indicating that while blacks had greater BMIs than fairer complexioned whites and mulattos, part of the difference was offset by socioeconomic characteristics that favored fairer complexions. Black, mulatto, and white BMIs declined between 1860 and 1920, and farmers had greater BMIs than workers in other occupations.

Suggested Citation

  • Scott A. Carson, 2012. "Obesity in Black and White: Accounting for 19th Century US BMI Differences by Socioeconomic Status and Biology," CESifo Working Paper Series 3913, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3913
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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp3913.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Wahl, Jenny B., 1996. "The Jurisprudence of American Slave Sales," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(01), pages 143-169, March.
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    3. Baum II, Charles L. & Ruhm, Christopher J., 2009. "Age, socioeconomic status and obesity growth," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 635-648, May.
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    6. Costa, Dora L., 2004. "The Measure of Man and Older Age Mortality: Evidence from the Gould Sample," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 64(01), pages 1-23, March.
    7. Koch, Daniel, 2011. "Waaler revisited: The anthropometrics of mortality," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 106-117, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    nineteenth century US race relations; body mass index; biological inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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