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Height and Cognitive Function among Older Europeans: Do People from "Tall" Countries Have Superior Cognitive Abilities?

Author

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  • Guven, Cahit

    () (Deakin University)

  • Lee, Wang-Sheng

    () (Deakin University)

Abstract

Previous research has found that height is correlated with cognitive functioning at older ages. It therefore makes sense to ask a related question: do people from countries where the average person is relatively tall have superior cognitive abilities on average? Using data from the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), we find empirical evidence that this is the case, even after controlling for self-reported childhood health, self-reported childhood abilities, parental characteristics and education. We find that people from countries with relatively tall people, such as Denmark and the Netherlands, have on average superior cognitive abilities compared to people from countries with relatively shorter people, such as Italy and Spain. We exploit variations in height trends due to nutritional deprivation in World War II in Europe and use an instrumental variable analysis to further estimate the potential impact of height on cognitive function. We find some suggestive evidence that a causal link from height to cognitive outcomes could be operating via nutrition and not via educational attainment.

Suggested Citation

  • Guven, Cahit & Lee, Wang-Sheng, 2011. "Height and Cognitive Function among Older Europeans: Do People from "Tall" Countries Have Superior Cognitive Abilities?," IZA Discussion Papers 6210, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6210
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    Cited by:

    1. Deniz Gevrek & Z Eylem Gevrek & Cahit Guven, 2015. "Benefits of Education at the Intensive Margin: Childhood Academic Performance and Adult Outcomes among American Immigrants," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 41(3), pages 298-328, June.
    2. Manuel Flores & Adriaan Kalwij, 2014. "The associations between early life circumstances and later life health and employment in Europe," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 47(4), pages 1251-1282, December.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    instrumental variables; cognitive function; height; World War II;

    JEL classification:

    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy

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