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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?

  • Denis Cogneau

    ()

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

  • Léa Rouanet

    ()

    (Paris School of Economics, ENSAE)

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.

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File URL: http://www.dial.ird.fr/media/ird-sites-d-unites-de-recherche/dial/documents/publications/doc_travail/2009/2009-12
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Paper provided by DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation) in its series Working Papers with number DT/2009/12.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dia:wpaper:dt200912
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