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Selective Mortality or Growth after Childhood? What Really is Key to Understand the Puzzlingly Tall Adult Heights in Sub-Saharan Africa

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  • Alexander Moradi

Abstract

Sub-Sahara African populations are tall relative to the extremely adverse disease environment and their low incomes. Selective mortality, which removes shorter individuals leaving taller individuals in the population, was proposed as an explanation. From heights of surviving and non-surviving children in Gambia, we estimate the size of the survivorship bias and find it to be too small to account for the tall adult heights observed in sub-Saharan Africa. We propose instead a different yet widely ignored explanation: African populations attain a tall adult stature, because they can make up a significant amount of the growth shortfall after age 5. This pattern is in striking contrast to other developing countries. Moreover, mortality rates are relatively low after age 5 adding further doubts about selective mortality.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander Moradi, 2010. "Selective Mortality or Growth after Childhood? What Really is Key to Understand the Puzzlingly Tall Adult Heights in Sub-Saharan Africa," CSAE Working Paper Series 2010-17, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2010-17
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    Cited by:

    1. Stefan Öberg, 2015. "The direct effect of exposure to disease in early life on the height of young adult men in southern Sweden, 1814-1948," Population Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 69(2), pages 179-199, July.
    2. Brown,Caitlin Susan & Ravallion,Martin & Van De Walle,Dominique, 2017. "Are poor individuals mainly found in poor households ? evidence using nutrition data for Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 8001, The World Bank.
    3. Anna-Maria Aksan, 2014. "Effects of Childhood Mortality and Morbidity on the Fertility Transition in sub-Saharan Africa," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 40(2), pages 311-329, June.
    4. Kenneth Harttgen & Stefan Lang & Johannes Seiler, 2017. "Selective mortality and undernutrition in low- and middle-income countries," Working Papers 2017-27, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
    5. Alderman, Harold & Lokshin, Michael & Radyakin, Sergiy, 2011. "Tall claims : mortality selection and the height of children," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5846, The World Bank.
    6. Alderman, Harold & Lokshin, Michael & Radyakin, Sergiy, 2011. "Tall claims: Mortality selection and the height of children in India," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 393-406.
    7. Kalle Hirvonen, 2013. "Measuring catch-up growth in malnourished populations," Working Paper Series 5913, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    adult height; mortality; sub-Saharan Africa; catch-up growth;

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