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Late 19th and Early 20th Century Native and Immigrant Body Mass Index Values

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  • Scott A. Carson

Abstract

When traditional measures for health and economic welfare are scarce or unreliable, height and the body mass index (BMI) are now well-accepted measures that reflect net nutrition during economic development. To date, there is no study that compares 19th century BMIs of immigrants and US natives. Individuals in the New South and West had high BMIs, while those in the upper South and Northeast had lower BMIs. Immigrants from Europe had the highest BMIs, while immigrants from Asia were the lowest. African-Americans and mixed-race individuals had greater BMIs than fairer complexioned whites. After accounting for occupational selection, workers in agricultural occupations had greater BMIs. Close proximity to rural agriculture decreased the relative price of food, increased net nutrition, and was associated with higher BMIs.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_6771
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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp6771.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    nineteenth century US health; immigrant health; BMI; malnourishment; obesity;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J70 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - General
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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