IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/sss/wpaper/2017-10.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Scarring and Selection in the Great Irish Famine

Author

Listed:
  • Matthias Blum

    () (Queen’s University Belfast)

  • Christopher L. Colvin

    () (Queen’s University Belfast)

  • Eoin McLaughlin

    () (School of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St. Andrews)

Abstract

What impact do famines have on survivors? We use individual-level data on a population exposed to severe famine conditions during infancy to document two opposing effects. The first: exposure to insufficient food and a worsened disease environment is associated with poor health into adulthood – a scarring effect. The second: famine survivors do not themselves suffer any health impact – a slection effect. Anthropometric evidence from records pertaining to over 21,000 subjects born before, during and after the Great Irish Famine (1845-52), one of modern history’s most severe famine episodes, suggests that selection is strongest where famine mortality is highest. Individuals born in heavily-affected areas experienced no measurable stunted growth, while significant scarring was found only among those born in regions where the same famine did not result in any excess mortality.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthias Blum & Christopher L. Colvin & Eoin McLaughlin, 2017. "Scarring and Selection in the Great Irish Famine," Discussion Papers in Environment and Development Economics 2017-10, University of St. Andrews, School of Geography and Sustainable Development.
  • Handle: RePEc:sss:wpaper:2017-10
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/media/dept-of-geography-and-sustainable-development/pdf-s/DP%202017-10%20Blum%20et%20al.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_height_health_and_cognitive_function.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:pri:rpdevs:case_paxson_cog_function_additional.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:bla:ehsrev:v:70:y:2017:i:1:p:3-29 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. repec:bla:ehsrev:v:70:y:2017:i:1:p:187-223 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Case, Anne & Paxson, Christina & Islam, Mahnaz, 2009. "Making sense of the labor market height premium: Evidence from the British Household Panel Survey," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 102(3), pages 174-176, March.
    7. Mokyr, Joel & Grada, Cormac O, 1982. "Emigration and poverty in prefamine Ireland," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 360-384, October.
    8. Fernihough, Alan & McGovern, Mark E., 2015. "Physical stature decline and the health status of the elderly population in England," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 16(C), pages 30-44.
    9. Fredrik N G Andersson & Jason Lennard, 2019. "Irish GDP between the Famine and the First World War: estimates based on a dynamic factor model," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(1), pages 50-71.
    10. Kim, Seonghoon & Deng, Quheng & Fleisher, Belton M. & Li, Shi, 2014. "The Lasting Impact of Parental Early Life Malnutrition on Their Offspring: Evidence from the China Great Leap Forward Famine," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 232-242.
    11. Galor, Oded, 2005. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 171-293, Elsevier.
    12. Janet Currie & Tom Vogl, 2013. "Early-Life Health and Adult Circumstance in Developing Countries," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 5(1), pages 1-36, May.
    13. Osmani, Siddiq & Sen, Amartya, 2003. "The hidden penalties of gender inequality: fetal origins of ill-health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 105-121, January.
    14. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2008. "Height, Health, and Cognitive Function at Older Ages," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 463-467, May.
    15. Gørgens, Tue & Meng, Xin & Vaithianathan, Rhema, 2012. "Stunting and selection effects of famine: A case study of the Great Chinese Famine," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 99-111.
    16. Moradi, Alexander, 2010. "Nutritional status and economic development in sub-Saharan Africa, 1950-1980," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 16-29, March.
    17. Gráda, Cormac Ó & O'Rourke, Kevin H., 1997. "Migration as disaster relief: Lessons from the Great Irish Famine," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(1), pages 3-25, April.
    18. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1993. "After the Famine: Emigration from Ireland, 1850–1913," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 53(3), pages 575-600, September.
    19. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2004. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1019-1053, October.
    20. repec:aea:aecrev:v:108:y:2018:i:4-5:p:1214-52 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo & Gilles Postel-Vinay & Tim Watts, 2010. "Long-Run Health Impacts of Income Shocks: Wine and Phylloxera in Nineteenth-Century France," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 714-728, November.
    22. A'Hearn, Brian & Baten, Jörg & Crayen, Dorothee, 2009. "Quantifying Quantitative Literacy: Age Heaping and the History of Human Capital," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(3), pages 783-808, September.
    23. Petra Persson & Maya Rossin-Slater, 2018. "Family Ruptures, Stress, and the Mental Health of the Next Generation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(4-5), pages 1214-1252, April.
    24. Xu, Hongwei & Li, Lydia & Zhang, Zhenmei & Liu, Jinyu, 2016. "Is natural experiment a cure? Re-examining the long-term health effects of China's 1959–1961 famine," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 110-122.
    25. Bodenhorn, Howard & Guinnane, Timothy W. & Mroz, Thomas A., 2017. "Sample-Selection Biases and the Industrialization Puzzle," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 171-207, March.
    26. repec:pri:rpdevs:case_paxson_cog_function_additional is not listed on IDEAS
    27. repec:pri:rpdevs:case_paxson_height_health_and_cognitive_function.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    28. Eric B. Schneider, 2017. "Children's growth in an adaptive framework: explaining the growth patterns of American slaves and other historical populations," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 70(1), pages 3-29, February.
    29. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie, 2011. "Killing Me Softly: The Fetal Origins Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 153-172, Summer.
    30. Riggs, Paul & Cuff, Timothy, 2013. "Ladies from Hell, Aberdeen Free Gardeners, and the Russian influenza: An anthropometric analysis of WWI-era Scottish soldiers and civilians," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 69-77.
    31. Fogel, Robert W, 1994. "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 369-395, June.
    32. Majid, Muhammad Farhan, 2015. "The persistent effects of in utero nutrition shocks over the life cycle: Evidence from Ramadan fasting," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 48-57.
    33. Komlos, John, 1998. "Shrinking in a Growing Economy? The Mystery of Physical Stature during the Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 779-802, September.
    34. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_height_health_and_cognitive_function is not listed on IDEAS
    35. repec:pri:rpdevs:case_paxson_height_health_and_cognitive_function is not listed on IDEAS
    36. Steckel, Richard H., 1986. "A Peculiar Population: The Nutrition, Health, and Mortality of American Slaves from Childhood to Maturity," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(3), pages 721-741, September.
    37. Roderick Floud & Kenneth Wachter & Annabel Gregory, 1990. "Height, Health, and History: Nutritional Status in the United Kingdom, 1750-1980," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number flou90-1, October.
    38. O'Rourke, Kevin, 1995. "Emigration and Living Standards in Ireland since the Famine," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 8(4), pages 407-421, November.
    39. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2001. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height, Third Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 04-013, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 15 Mar 2004.
    40. Alan Fernihough & Mark E. McGovern, "undated". "Physical Stature Decline and the Health Status of the Elderly Population in England," PGDA Working Papers 11214, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
    41. Baten, Joerg, 2009. "Protein supply and nutritional status in nineteenth century Bavaria, Prussia and France," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 165-180, July.
    42. Guntupalli, Aravinda Meera & Baten, Joerg, 2006. "The development and inequality of heights in North, West, and East India 1915-1944," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 43(4), pages 578-608, October.
    43. Phelim Boyle & Cormac Grádo, 1986. "Fertility trends, excess mortality, and the Great Irish Famine," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 23(4), pages 543-562, November.
    44. Morgan, Stephen L., 2004. "Economic growth and the biological standard of living in China, 1880-1930," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 197-218, June.
    45. Stefan Dercon & Catherine Porter, 2014. "Live Aid Revisited: Long-Term Impacts Of The 1984 Ethiopian Famine On Children," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 927-948, August.
    46. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Lederman, Daniel & Loayza, Norman, 2002. "What causes violent crime?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(7), pages 1323-1357, July.
    47. Wheatcroft, Stephen G., 2009. "The first 35 years of Soviet living standards: Secular growth and conjunctural crises in a time of famines," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 24-52, January.
    48. Blum, Matthias, 2011. "Government decisions before and during the First World War and the living standards in Germany during a drastic natural experiment," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 556-567.
    49. Baten, Joerg & Ma, Debin & Morgan, Stephen & Wang, Qing, 2010. "Evolution of living standards and human capital in China in the 18-20th centuries: Evidences from real wages, age-heaping, and anthropometrics," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 347-359, July.
    50. Howard Bodenhorn & Carolyn Moehling & Gregory N. Price, 2012. "Short Criminals: Stature and Crime in Early America," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(2), pages 393-419.
    51. Matthias Blum & Christopher L. Colvin & Laura McAtackney & Eoin McLaughlin, 2017. "Women of an uncertain age: quantifying human capital accumulation in rural Ireland in the nineteenth century," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 70(1), pages 187-223, February.
    52. Eric B. Schneider, 2017. "Children's growth in an adaptive framework: explaining the growth patterns of American slaves and other historical populations," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 70(1), pages 3-29, February.
    53. Baten, Jörg & Komlos, John, 1998. "Height and the Standard of Living," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(3), pages 866-870, September.
    54. Lindeboom, Maarten & Portrait, France & van den Berg, Gerard J., 2010. "Long-run effects on longevity of a nutritional shock early in life: The Dutch Potato famine of 1846-1847," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 617-629, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Mark E. McGovern, 2019. "How much does birth weight matter for child health in developing countries? Estimates from siblings and twins," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(1), pages 3-22, January.
    2. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:34:y:2019:i:c:p:103-114 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:29:y:2018:i:c:p:168-178 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    famine; fetal origins hypothesis; anthropometrics; economic history; Ireland;

    JEL classification:

    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sss:wpaper:2017-10. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Laure Kuhfuss). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/eestauk.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.