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A Tall Story: Characteristics, Causes, and Consequences of Stature Loss

Author

Listed:
  • Alan Fernihough

    () (Institute for International Integration Studies, Trinity College Dublin)

  • Mark E. McGovern

    () (Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies)

Abstract

Height is widely used as an objective measure of health status. It is commonly used in the large body of research evaluating welfare trends in historic populations and the long-run impacts of childhood environment. However, few research papers have examined the extent, causes or consequences of stature loss in aging populations. This is surprising, as many studies rely on the assumption that height is fixed in late adolescence. Using repeated observations on objectively measured data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), we document that stature loss is an important phenomenon among older individuals, and demonstrate how the use of unadjusted height will dramatically overstate health improvements for younger birth cohorts in cross sectional data. We show that there is an absence of consistent predictors of stature loss at the individual level. However, we exploit the panel element of the ELSA survey to show how deteriorating health and stature loss occur in tandem. While our analysis details the inherent bias of height measurements in older populations, we do not find that significant differences arise from the use of unadjusted height as an input in typical empirical health production function models.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan Fernihough & Mark E. McGovern, 2013. "A Tall Story: Characteristics, Causes, and Consequences of Stature Loss," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp429, IIIS.
  • Handle: RePEc:iis:dispap:iiisdp429
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Evidence on Stature Loss
      by Mark McGovern in Economics and Psychology Research on 2013-06-16 20:11:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Kim, Younoh, 2015. "The dynamics of health and its determinants among the elderly in developing countries," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 1-12.
    2. Akachi, Yoko & Canning, David, 2015. "Inferring the economic standard of living and health from cohort height: Evidence from modern populations in developing countries," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 114-128.
    3. Jinkook Lee & McGovern, Mark E. & David E. Bloom & P. Arokiasamy & Arun Risbud & Jennifer O?Brien & Varsha Kale & Peifeng Hu, 2015. "Education, Gender, and State-Level Gradients in the Health of Older Indians: Evidence from Biomarker Data," Working Paper 228841, Harvard University OpenScholar.
    4. Blum, Matthias & Colvin, Christopher L. & McLaughlin, Eoin, 2017. "Scarring and selection in the Great Irish Famine," QUCEH Working Paper Series 2017-08, Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History.
    5. Mosca, Irene & Wright, Robert E., 2016. "Height and cognition at older ages: Irish evidence," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 98-101.
    6. McGovern, Mark E., 2014. "Comparing the relationship between stature and later life health in six low and middle income countries," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 4(C), pages 128-148.
    7. repec:oup:ereveh:v:22:y:2018:i:1:p:1-27. is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Height; Stature Loss; Early Life Conditions; Health; Aging;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts

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