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Changes in the Disparities in Chronic Disease during the Course of the Twentieth Century

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  • Robert W. Fogel

Abstract

Longitudinal studies support the proposition that the extent and severity of chronic conditions in middle and late ages are to a large extent the outcome of environmental insults at early ages, including in utero. Data from the Early Indicators program project undertaken at the Center for Population Economics suggest that the range of differences in exposure to disease has narrowed greatly over the course of the twentieth century, that age-specific prevalence rates of chronic diseases were much lower at the end of the twentieth century than they were at the beginning of the last century or during the last half of the nineteenth century, and that there has been a significant delay in the onset of chronic diseases over the course of the twentieth century. These trends appear to be related to changes in levels of environmental hazards and in body size. These findings have led investigators to posit a synergism between technological and physiological improvements. This synergism has contributed to reductions in inequality in real income, body size, and life expectancy during the twentieth century.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert W. Fogel, 2004. "Changes in the Disparities in Chronic Disease during the Course of the Twentieth Century," NBER Working Papers 10311, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10311
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Feinstein, Charles, 1988. "The Rise and Fall of the Williamson Curve," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(03), pages 699-729, September.
    2. Dora Costa, 2000. "Understanding the twentieth-century decline in chronic conditions among older men," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 37(1), pages 53-72, February.
    3. Birchenall, Javier A., 2011. "Airborne diseases: Tuberculosis in the Union Army," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 325-342, April.
    4. Robert William Fogel, 1993. "New Sources and New Techniques for the Study of Secular Trends in Nutritional Status, Health, Mortality, and the Process of Aging," NBER Historical Working Papers 0026, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Hannon, Joan Underhill, 1985. "Poor relief policy in antebellum New York state: The rise and decline of the poorhouse," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 233-256, July.
    6. Costa, Dora L., 2004. "The Measure of Man and Older Age Mortality: Evidence from the Gould Sample," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 64(01), pages 1-23, March.
    7. Mark R. Rosenzweig & T. Paul Schultz, 1988. "The Stability of Household Production Technology: A Replication," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(4), pages 535-549.
    8. Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1982. "Was the industrial revolution worth it? Disamenities and death in 19th century British towns," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 221-245, July.
    9. Hannon, Joan Underhill, 1984. "The Generosity of Antebellum Poor Relief," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(03), pages 810-821, September.
    10. Allen, Robert C., 1992. "Enclosure and the Yeoman: The Agricultural Development of the South Midlands 1450-1850," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198282969.
    11. repec:cai:popine:popu_p1977_32n1_0352 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Richard H. Steckel & Roderick Floud, 1997. "Health and Welfare during Industrialization," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number stec97-1, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ianina Rossi & Fernanda Tellechea & Fiorella Tramontin & Patricia Triunfo, 2007. "El estado de salud de los uruguayos," Estudios de Economia, University of Chile, Department of Economics, vol. 34(1 Year 20), pages 73-96, June.
    2. Fogel, Robert W, 2004. "Health, Nutrition, and Economic Growth," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(3), pages 643-658, April.
    3. Máximo Rossi & Patricia Triunfo, 2004. "El Estado de Salud del Adulto Mayor en Uruguay," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 1404, Department of Economics - dECON.
    4. Okunade, Albert A., 2004. "Concepts, measures, and models of technology and technical progress in medical care and health economics," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 363-368, July.
    5. Sok Chul Hong, 2011. "Malaria: An Early Indicator of Later Disease and Work Level," Working Papers 1110, Research Institute for Market Economy, Sogang University.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics

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