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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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    1. Morgan, Stephen L., 2009. "Stature and economic development in South China, 1810-1880," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 53-69, January.
    2. Elisabetta De Cao, 2010. "The Height Production Function from Birth to Early Adulthood," CEIS Research Paper 165, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 28 May 2010.
    3. Olds, Kelly B., 2003. "The biological standard of living in Taiwan under Japanese occupation," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 187-206, June.
    4. Morgan, Stephen L., 2004. "Economic growth and the biological standard of living in China, 1880-1930," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 197-218, June.
    5. Steckel, Richard H., 2009. "Heights and human welfare: Recent developments and new directions," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 1-23, January.
    6. Yujiro Hayami & Cristina C. David & Piedad Flores‐Moya & Masao Kikuchi, 1978. "Agricultural Growth Against A Land Resource Constraint: The Philippine Experience: Reply," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 22(2-3), pages 210-210, 08-12.
    7. Horton, Susan, 1986. "Child nutrition and family size in the Philippines," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 161-176, September.
    8. Easterlin, Richard A., 1981. "Why Isn't the Whole World Developed?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(1), pages 1-17, March.
    9. Kikuchi, Masao & Hayami, Yujiro, 1978. "Agricultural Growth against a Land Resource Constraint: A Comparative History of Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and the Philippines," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(4), pages 839-864, December.
    10. Josep M. Fradera, 2004. "The historical origins of the Philippine economy: a survey of recent research of the Spanish colonial era," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 44(3), pages 307-320, November.
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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. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    height; biological standard of living; human capital; tropical diseases; truncated regression; Philippines;

    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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