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Biological Well-Being in Late 19th Century Philippines

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  • Jean-Pascal Bassino
  • Marion Dovis
  • John Komlos

Abstract

This paper investigates the biological standard of living toward the end of Spanish rule. We investigate levels, trends, and determinants of physical stature from the birth cohorts of the 1860s to the 1890s using data on 23,000 Filipino soldiers enlisted by the U.S. military between 1901 and 1913. We use truncated regression technique for estimating average height and use province level information for investigating the determinants of biological wellbeing. The results indicate a decline of more than 1.5 cm (0.6 inches) in the height of soldiers born between the early 1870s and the late 1880s. The decline in heights at the end of the 19th century occurred at a time when there was an expansion of commercial activity in cash crop production for export. Heights did not regain the level of the 1870s until the late 1930s and early 1940s. We also find that at 159.3 cm (62.7 inches), the average height of soldiers born in the mid-1870s was very short even for the time. The low biological standard of living observed in late 19th century Philippines was not due to the tropical disease environment alone since greater average heights were recorded for the same period in other parts of Asia with a similar climate.

Suggested Citation

  • Jean-Pascal Bassino & Marion Dovis & John Komlos, 2015. "Biological Well-Being in Late 19th Century Philippines," CESifo Working Paper Series 5432, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_5432
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Adolfo Meisel-Roca & María Teresa Ramírez-Giraldo & Daniela Santos-Cárdenas, 2018. "Socioeconomic Determinants and Spatial Convergence of Biological Well-being: The Case of Physical Stature in Colombia, 1920-1990," Borradores de Economia 1053, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    2. Meisel-Roca, Adolfo & Ramírez-Giraldo, María Teresa & Santos-Cárdenas, Daniela, 2019. "Long run relationship between biological well being, and economic development in Colombia," Working papers 24, Red Investigadores de Economía.
    3. BASSINO, Jean-Pascal & BATEN, Joerg, 2016. "A Curse of ‘Point Source’ Resources? : Cash Crops and Numeracy on the Philippines 19th-20th Century," Discussion paper series HIAS-E-22, Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study, Hitotsubashi University.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    height; biological standard of living; human capital; tropical diseases; truncated regression; Philippines;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • N35 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Asia including Middle East
    • N95 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Asia including Middle East

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