IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Physical Stature Decline and the Health Status of the Elderly Population in England

  • Alan Fernihough

    ()

    (Institute for International Integration Studies, Trinity College Dublin)

  • Mark E. McGovern

    ()

    (Harvard School of Public Health)

Few research papers in economics have examined the extent, causes or consequences of physical stature decline in aging populations. Using repeated observations on objectively measured data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), we document that reduction in height is an important phenomenon among respondents aged 50 and over. On average, physical stature decline occurs at an annual rate of between 0.08% and 0.10% for males, and 0.12% and 0.14% for females — which approximately translates into a 2cm to 4cm reduction in height over the life course. Since height is commonly used as a measure of long-run health, our results demonstrate that failing to take age-related height loss into account substantially overstates the health advantage of older birth cohorts relative to their younger counterparts. We also show that there is an absence of consistent predictors of physical stature decline at the individual level. However, we demonstrate how deteriorating health and reductions in height occur simultaneously. We document that declines in muscle mass and bone density are likely to be the mechanism through which these effects are operating. If this physical stature decline is determined by deteriorating health in adulthood, the coefficient on a measured height when used as an input in a typical empirical health production function will be affected by reverse causality. While our analysis details the inherent difficulties associated with measuring height in older populations, we do not find that significant bias arises in typical empirical health productionfunctions from the use of height which has not been adjusted for physical stature decline. Therefore, our results validate the use of height among the population aged over 50.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/pgda/WorkingPapers/2014/PGDA_WP_112.pdf
Our checks indicate that this address may not be valid because: 404 Not Found. If this is indeed the case, please notify (Günther Fink)


Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Program on the Global Demography of Aging in its series PGDA Working Papers with number 11214.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation:
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:gdm:wpaper:11214
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/pgda
More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. David Cutler & Angus Deaton & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2005. "The Determinants of Mortality," Working Papers 164, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  2. Steckel, Richard H., 2009. "Heights and human welfare: Recent developments and new directions," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 1-23, January.
  3. N. Gregory Mankiw & Matthew C. Weinzierl, 2009. "The Optimal Taxation of Height: A Case Study of Utilitarian Income Redistribution," Harvard Business School Working Papers 09-139, Harvard Business School.
  4. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2006. "Stature and Status: Height, Ability, and Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 12466, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2010. "Causes And Consequences Of Early Life Health," Working Papers 1213, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  6. James P. Smith, 2009. "Re-Constructing Childhood Health Histories," Working Papers 666, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  7. Wei Huang & Xiaoyan Lei & Geert Ridder & John Strauss & Yaohui Zhao, 2013. "Health, Height, Height Shrinkage, and SES at Older Ages: Evidence from China," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 86-121, April.
  8. Fogel, Robert W, 2004. "Health, Nutrition, and Economic Growth," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(3), pages 643-58, April.
  9. Maurer, Jürgen, 2010. "Height, education and later-life cognition in Latin America and the Caribbean," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 168-176, July.
  10. Carlos Bozzoli & Angus Deaton & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2009. "Adult height and childhood disease," Demography, Springer, vol. 46(4), pages 647-669, November.
  11. Kevin Denny, 2010. "Height and well-being amongst older Europeans," Working Papers 201048, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  12. Howard Bodenhorn & Carolyn Moehling & Gregory N. Price, 2012. "Short Criminals: Stature and Crime in Early America," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(2), pages 393 - 419.
  13. 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.
  14. David Madden, 2013. "Self-Reported and Measured BMI in Ireland: Should We Adjust the Obesity Thresholds?," Working Papers 201301, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
  15. Hans-Joachim Voth, 2003. "Living Standards During the Industrial Revolution: An Economist's Guide," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 221-226, May.
  16. Richard A. Easterlin, 2000. "The Worldwide Standard of Living since 1800," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(1), pages 7-26, Winter.
  17. O'Neill, Donal & Sweetman, Olive, 2013. "Estimating Obesity Rates in the Presence of Measurement Error," IZA Discussion Papers 7288, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. Steckel, Richard H., 2005. "Young adult mortality following severe physiological stress in childhood: Skeletal evidence," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 314-328, July.
  19. 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.
  20. Peracchi, Franco & Arcaleni, Emilia, 2011. "Early-life environment, height and BMI of young men in Italy," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 251-264, July.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:gdm:wpaper:11214. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Günther Fink)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.