Growth and inequalities of height in Brazil (1939-1981)
This paper analyzes the heights of Brazilian people using anthropometric and economic data. The literature suggests that height is a good proxy of the material living conditions of different populations. Data indicate that the difference between the heights of 21 and 65-year-old men is approximately six centimetres. The same value, by coincidence, represents the difference in the stature of the poorest and richest quintiles. Adjusted data show an increase of 3.8 centimetres in the heights of adult male Brazilians born between 1939 and 1981. There are also stable regional differences; in the North and Northeast of the country, heights are about two centimetres lower than the national average for all groups. Regression analyses show that proxy variables related to living conditions during bodily growth, and using regional dummies, were statistically significant causes of the variation in the heights of individuals. In contrast, colour, urban/rural, and inequality variables were not significant. The results replicate what the historiography of the relation between living conditions and stature makes clear: the social environment has a significant impact on the average height of populations.
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