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Towards an Objective Account of Nutrition and Health in Colonial Kenya: A Study of Stature in African Army Recruits and Civilians, 1880-1980

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  • Alexander Moradi

Abstract

How well did Kenyans do under colonial rule? It is common sense that Kenyans suffered under exploitative colonial policies. The overall impact, however, is uncertain. This study presents fresh evidence on nutrition and health in colonial Kenya by (1) using a new and comprehensive data set of African army recruits and civilians and (2) applying a powerful measure of nutritional status: mean population height. Findings demonstrate huge regional inequalities but only minor changes in the mean height of cohorts born 20 years before and after colonisation. From 1920 onwards secular improvements took place which continued after Independence. It can be concluded that however bad colonial policies and devastating short term crises were, the net outcome of colonial times was a significant progress in nutrition and health.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander Moradi, 2008. "Towards an Objective Account of Nutrition and Health in Colonial Kenya: A Study of Stature in African Army Recruits and Civilians, 1880-1980," CSAE Working Paper Series 2008-04, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2008-04
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    Cited by:

    1. Denis Cogneau & Léa Rouanet, 2009. "Living Conditions in Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Western Africa 1925-1985: What Do Survey Data on Height Stature Tell Us?," Working Papers DT/2009/12, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
    2. Jerven, Morten & Austin, Gareth & Green, Erik & Uche, Chibuike & Frankema, Ewout & Fourie, Johan & Inikori, Joseph & Moradi, Alexander & Hillbom, Ellen, 2012. "Moving Forward in African Economic History. Bridging the Gap Between Methods and Sources," Lund Papers in Economic History 124, Lund University, Department of Economic History.
    3. Cogneau, Denis & Moradi, Alexander, 2014. "Borders That Divide: Education and Religion in Ghana and Togo Since Colonial Times," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 74(03), pages 694-729, September.
    4. Ewout Frankema & Morten Jerven, 2014. "Writing history backwards or sideways: towards a consensus on African population, 1850–2010," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(4), pages 907-931, November.
    5. Gareth Austin & Stephen Broadberry, 2014. "Introduction: The renaissance of African economic history," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(4), pages 893-906, November.
    6. Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay & Elliott Green, 2011. "The Reversal of Fortune Thesis Reconsidered," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(7), pages 817-831, December.
    7. Moradi, Alexander, 2010. "Nutritional status and economic development in sub-Saharan Africa, 1950-1980," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 16-29, March.
    8. Frankema, Ewout, 2011. "Colonial taxation and government spending in British Africa, 1880-1940: Maximizing revenue or minimizing effort?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 136-149, January.
    9. Jörg Baten & Mojgan Stegl & Pierre Eng, 2013. "The biological standard of living and body height in colonial and post-colonial Indonesia, 1770–2000," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 103-122, July.
    10. Oliver Vanden Eynde, 2016. "Military Service and Human Capital Accumulation: Evidence from Colonial Punjab," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 51(4), pages 10031035-10.
    11. Meier zu Selhausen, Felix P. & van Leeuwen, Marco H.D. & Weisdorf, Jacob L., 2015. "Social Mobility among Christian Africans: Evidence from Ugandan Marriage Registers 1895-2011," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 239, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    12. Johannes Gräb & Jan Priebe, 2009. "Low Malnutrition but High Mortality: Explaining the Paradox of the Lake Victoria Region," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 185, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.
    13. repec:dau:papers:123456789/12675 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. repec:dau:papers:123456789/4300 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Gareth Austin, 2008. "The 'reversal of fortune' thesis and the compression of history: Perspectives from African and comparative economic history," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(8), pages 996-1027.
    16. Leander Heldring & James A. Robinson, 2012. "Colonialism and Economic Development in Africa," NBER Working Papers 18566, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Akachi, Yoko & Canning, David, 2010. "Health trends in Sub-Saharan Africa: Conflicting evidence from infant mortality rates and adult heights," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 273-288, July.
    18. Sue Bowden & Paul Mosley, 2012. "Politics, Public Expenditure and the Evolution of Poverty in Africa 1920-2009," Working Papers 2012003, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    nutrition; health; anthropometrics; inequality; colonial; Kenya;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania

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