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Living Conditions in Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Western Africa 1925-1985: What do Survey Data on Height Stature tell us?

  • Rouanet, Léa
  • Cogneau, Denis

Survey data reveals that the pace of increase in height stature experienced by successive cohorts born in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana during the late colonial period (1925–1960) is almost as high as the pace observed in France and Great Britain during the period 1875 to 1975, even when correcting for the bias arising from old-age shrinking. By contrast, the early post-colonial period (1960–1985) is characterised by stagnation or even reversion in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana. This article argues that the selection effects linked for instance to measuring the height of women rather than men, mothers rather than women, and, most importantly, the interactions between height and mortality, cannot account for these figures. It then disaggregates these national trends by parental background and district of birth, and match individual data with district-level historical data on export crop (cocoa) expansion, urban density and colonial investment in health and education. Finally, it provides evidence that a significant share of the increase in height stature may be related to the early stages of urbanisation and cocoa production.

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Paper provided by Paris Dauphine University in its series Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine with number 123456789/4300.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Publication status: Published in Economic History of Developing Regions, 2011, Vol. 26, no. 2. pp. 55-82.Length: 27 pages
Handle: RePEc:dau:papers:123456789/4300
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