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Stunting and Selection Effects of Famine: A Case Study of the Great Chinese Famine

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  • Gørgens, Tue
  • Meng, Xin
  • Vaithianathan, Rhema

Abstract

Many developing countries experience famine. If survival is related to height, the increasingly common practice of using height as a measure of well-being may be misleading. We devise a novel method for disentangling the stunting from the selection effects of famine. Using data from the 1959-1961 Great Chinese Famine, we find that taller children were more likely to survive the famine. Controlling for selection, we estimate that children under the age of five who survived the famine grew up to be 1 to 2 cm shorter. Our results suggest that average height is potentially a biased measure of economic conditions during childhood.

Suggested Citation

  • Gørgens, Tue & Meng, Xin & Vaithianathan, Rhema, 2010. "Stunting and Selection Effects of Famine: A Case Study of the Great Chinese Famine," CEI Working Paper Series 2010-2, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:hit:hitcei:2010-2
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Famine; height; China; panel data;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C33 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • N95 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - 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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