IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Linking Health, Nutrition and Wages: The Evolution of Age at Menarche and Labor Earnings among Adult Mexican Women


  • Felicia Marie Knaul


This study uses a human capital framework to evaluate the impact on labor market productivity of investments in health and nutrition in Mexico. The research extends the existing literature by proposing age at menarche as an effective indicator for analyzing the impact on productivity in the labor market of health and nutritional investments during childhood and adolescence. As in the case of adult height and body mass index, indicators that have been widely used in the analysis of the health-productivity relationship, menarche is a variable that reflects the secular increase in the level of economic development of many countries in the region. Age at menarche has shown a steady decrease of approximately 3-4 months per decade in many countries over the past 150 years. This decrease is a reflection of a variety of socio-economic factors and in particular nutritional status as a child. Despite the parallels between menarche and adult height as indicators of cumulative health status, age at menarche has apparently not been previously incorporated into the analysis of the impact of health on economic development. The paper considers the correlates of age at menarche in the framework of a reduced form health production function. Particular emphasis is placed on the importance of policy-sensitive health variables as determinants of age at menarche, and hence long-run female health. Hourly wages are used to measure the impact on labor market productivity of investment in health and nutrition early in the life cycle. Age at menarche is presented as a proxy for certain aspects of the health and nutritional components of human capital. The integrated human capital framework that underlies the theoretical model is developed in Schultz (1997), and applied in such works as Schultz (1996), Schultz and Tansel (1997) and Strauss and Thomas (1997).

Suggested Citation

  • Felicia Marie Knaul, 1999. "Linking Health, Nutrition and Wages: The Evolution of Age at Menarche and Labor Earnings among Adult Mexican Women," Research Department Publications 3053, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:idb:wpaper:3053

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Behrman, Jere R. & Wolfe, Barbara L., 1987. "How does mother's schooling affect family health, nutrition, medical care usage, and household sanitation?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1-2), pages 185-204.
    2. Schultz, T. Paul & Tansel, Aysit, 1997. "Wage and labor supply effects of illness in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana: instrumental variable estimates for days disabled," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 251-286, August.
    3. Glewwe, P. & Jacoby, H., 1992. "Estimating the Determinants of Cognitive Achivement in Low-Income Countries," Papers 91, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement.
    4. Richard H. Steckel, 1995. "Stature and the Standard of Living," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1903-1940, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. William D. Savedoff & T. Paul Schultz, 2000. "Earnings and the Elusive Dividends of Health," Research Department Publications 3108, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    2. Mayer, David, 2000. "On the Role of Health in the Economic and Demographic Dynamics of Brazil, 1980-1995," Arbetsrapport 2000:4, Institute for Futures Studies.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:idb:wpaper:3053. 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: (Felipe Herrera Library). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.