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Health, Education and Income in the United States, 1820-2000

Author

Listed:
  • Hoyt Bleakley
  • Dora Costa
  • Adriana Lleras-Muney

Abstract

We document the correlations between early childhood health (as proxied by height) and educational attainment and investigate the labor market and wealth returns to height for United States cohorts born between 1820 and 1990. The nineteenth century was characterized by low investments in height and education, a small correlation between height and education, and positive but small returns for both height and education. The relationship between height and education was stronger in the twentieth century and stronger in the first part of the twentieth century than later on (when both investments in education and height stalled), but never as strong as in developing countries. The labor market and wealth returns to height and education also were higher in the twentieth compared to the nineteenth century. We relate our findings to the theory of human capital formation and speculate that the greater importance of physical labor in the nineteenth century economy, which raised the opportunity cost of schooling, may have depressed the height-education relationship relative to the twentieth century. Our findings are consistent with an increasing importance of cognitive abilities acquired in early childhood.

Suggested Citation

  • Hoyt Bleakley & Dora Costa & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2013. "Health, Education and Income in the United States, 1820-2000," NBER Working Papers 19162, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19162 Note: DAE DEV HE LS
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bruce Sacerdote, 2005. "Slavery and the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 217-234, May.
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    16. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2000:90:4:627-630_4 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Richard H. Steckel, 1995. "Stature and the Standard of Living," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1903-1940, December.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. #HEJC papers for August 2013
      by academichealtheconomists in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2013-08-01 04:00:48

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    Cited by:

    1. Hoque,Mohammad Mainul & King,Elizabeth M. & Montenegro,Claudio E. & Orazem,Peter F., 2017. "Longevity and lifetime education : global evidence from 919 surveys," Policy Research Working Paper Series 8175, The World Bank.

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    JEL classification:

    • I0 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General

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