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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?

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  • Denis Cogneau

    () (Paris School of Economics, DIAL, IRD, Paris)

  • Léa Rouanet

    () (Paris School of Economics, ENSAE)

Abstract

We find with survey data that the 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 increase observed in France and Great-Britain over the 1875-1975 period, even when correcting for the bias arising from old-age shrinking. In contrast, the early post-colonial period (1960-1985) is characterized by stagnation or even reversion, not only in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana but also in other countries in Western Africa. We argue that the selection effects linked to the interactions between height and mortality cannot give account of these figures. We then disaggregate 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 educations. We provide evidence that a significant share of the increase in height stature may be related to the progresses of urbanization and of cocoa production. _________________________________ A partir de données d’enquêtes, nous trouvons que l’accroissement de la stature de cohortes successives nées en Côte d’Ivoire et au Ghana pendant la période coloniale tardive (1925-1960) se compare à l’accroissement observé en France et en Grande-Bretagne sur la période 1875-1975, même après avoir corrigé des biais liés au tassement des âges élevés. En revanche, le début de la période post-coloniale (1960-1985) est caractérisé par une stagnation voire une régression, non seulement en Côte d’Ivoire et au Ghana mais aussi dans d’autres pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest. Nous argumentons que les effets de sélection liés aux interactions entre taille et mortalité ne peuvent rendre compte de ces faits. Nous désagrégeons ensuite ces tendances nationales par origine sociale et région de naissance, et apparions les données individuelles avec des données historiques régionales sur l’expansion de la culture d’exportation (cacao), la densité urbaine, et les investissements coloniaux en santé et en éducation. Une part importante de l’accroissement de la stature physique semble pouvoir être reliée aux progrès de l’urbanisation et de la production de cacao.

Suggested Citation

  • 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).
  • Handle: RePEc:dia:wpaper:dt200912
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    Cited by:

    1. Denis Cogneau & Kenneth Houngbedji & Sandrine Mesplé-Somps, 2013. "The fall of the elephant. Two decades of poverty increase in Côte d’Ivoire (1988 - 2008)," Post-Print hal-01517394, HAL.
    2. Eric Gaisie, 2017. "Living standards in pre-independent Ghana: evidence from household budgets," HHB Working Papers Series 7, The Historical Household Budgets Project.
    3. Sédi-Anne Boukaka & Giulia Mancini & Giovanni Vecchi, 2018. "Poverty and Inequality in Francophone Africa, 1960s-2010s," HHB Working Papers Series 16, The Historical Household Budgets Project.
    4. Prados de la Escosura, Leandro, 2013. "Human development in Africa: A long-run perspective," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 179-204.
    5. 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.
    6. Bokang Mpeta & Johan Fourie & Kris Inwood, 2017. "Black living standards in South Africa before democracy: New evidence from heights," Working Papers 670, Economic Research Southern Africa.
    7. Minoiu, Camelia & Shemyakina, Olga N., 2014. "Armed conflict, household victimization, and child health in Côte d'Ivoire," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 237-255.
    8. Denis Cogneau & Kenneth Houngbedji & Sandrine Mesplé-Somps, 2013. "The fall of the elephant. Two decades of poverty increase in Côte d’Ivoire (1988 - 2008)," Post-Print hal-01517394, HAL.
    9. repec:nva:unnvaa:wp04-2012 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. 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.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    West Africa; Economic History; Anthropometry; Afrique de l’Ouest; Histoire économique; Anthropométrie.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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