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The Lasting Effects of Maternal Net Nutrition during US Economic Development

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  • Scott A. Carson

Abstract

When traditional measures for economic welfare are scarce or unreliable, stature and the body mass index (BMI) are now widely-accepted measures that reflect economic conditions. However, little work exists for late 19th and early 20th century women’s BMIs in the US and how they varied with economic development. This study shows that after controlling for characteristics, African-American women had greater BMIs than lighter complexioned black and white women. Women from the Southwest were taller and had lower BMIs than women born elsewhere within the US. However, women’s BMIs did not vary by occupations. Women’s BMIs decreased throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which may have implications for the health and cognitive development of lower socioeconomic status children who reached maturity in the mid-20th century.

Suggested Citation

  • Scott A. Carson, 2016. "The Lasting Effects of Maternal Net Nutrition during US Economic Development," CESifo Working Paper Series 5827, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_5827
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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp5827.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709.
    2. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
    3. Komlos, John, 1987. "The Height and Weight of West Point Cadets: Dietary Change in Antebellum America," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(04), pages 897-927, December.
    4. Fogel, Robert W, 1994. "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 369-395, June.
    5. Bodenhorn, Howard, 1999. "A Troublesome Caste: Height and Nutrition of Antebellum Virginia's Rural Free Blacks," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(04), pages 972-996, December.
    6. Goldin, Claudia & Sokoloff, Kenneth, 1982. "Women, Children, and Industrialization in the Early Republic: Evidence from the Manufacturing Censuses," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(04), pages 741-774, December.
    7. Koch, Daniel, 2011. "Waaler revisited: The anthropometrics of mortality," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 106-117, January.
    8. Howard Bodenhorn & Carolyn Moehling & Gregory N. Price, 2012. "Short Criminals: Stature and Crime in Early America," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(2), pages 393-419.
    9. Steckel, Richard H., 1979. "Slave height profiles from coastwise manifests," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 363-380, October.
    10. Burkhauser, Richard V. & Cawley, John, 2008. "Beyond BMI: The value of more accurate measures of fatness and obesity in social science research," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 519-529, March.
    11. Scott Alan Carson, 2013. "Socioeconomic Effects on the Stature of Nineteenth-Century US Women," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(2), pages 122-143, April.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Scott A. Carson, 2017. "Late 19th and Early 20th Century Native and Immigrant Body Mass Index Values," CESifo Working Paper Series 6771, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Scott A. Carson, 2018. "The 19th Centure Net Nutrition Transition from Free to Bound Labor: A Difference-in-Decompositions Approach," CESifo Working Paper Series 6932, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    late 19th and early 20th century women’s BMIs; ethnicity and BMI; women’s health during economic development;

    JEL classification:

    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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