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Disease and child growth in industrialising Japan: assessing instantaneous changes in growth and changes in the growth pattern, 1911-39

Author

Listed:
  • Schneider, Eric B.
  • Ogasawara, Kota

Abstract

This paper assesses how the disease environment in interwar Japan influenced children’s growth and health. The data is drawn from government records from 1929 to 1939 which report the average heights of boys and girls in school at each age (6-21) for each of Japan’s 47 prefectures. We test the influence of disease in two ways. First, we test the influence of the disease environment at birth, proxied by the infant mortality rate, on the cohort growth pattern of children using the SITAR model to parameterise the growth pattern. In addition, we use a bilateral-specific fixed effects model to understand how disease instantaneously influenced growth controlling for prefecture-birth cohort effects. Our results suggest that health conditions in early life did not have a strong influence on the growth pattern of children in Japan. However, we do find a significant and economically meaningful instantaneous effect of the infant mortality rate on child height at ages 6-11 for both boys and girls. This suggests that child morbidity was very important to the increase in stature during interwar Japan, but it also suggests that the emphasis placed on preventing child stunting in the first thousand days in the modern development literature may be misplaced. The secular increase in height in interwar Japan was more strongly influenced by cumulative responses to the health environment across child development rather than being simply the outcome of improving cohort health.

Suggested Citation

  • Schneider, Eric B. & Ogasawara, Kota, 2017. "Disease and child growth in industrialising Japan: assessing instantaneous changes in growth and changes in the growth pattern, 1911-39," Economic History Working Papers 84066, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:84066
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/84066/
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Cited by:

    1. Tatsuki Inoue & Kota Ogasawara, 2018. "Chain effects of clean water: The Mills-Reincke phenomenon in early twentieth-century Japan," Papers 1805.00875, arXiv.org.
    2. Schneider, Eric B., 2018. "Sample selection biases and the historical growth pattern of children," Economic History Working Papers 87075, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    child growth; disease; health transition;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N35 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Asia including Middle East
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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