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Disease and child growth in industrialising Japan: critical windows and the growth pattern, 1917-39

Schneider, Eric B. and Ogasawara, Kota (2018) Disease and child growth in industrialising Japan: critical windows and the growth pattern, 1917-39. Explorations in Economic History, 69. pp. 64-80. ISSN 0014-4983

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.eeh.2018.05.001

Abstract

This paper assesses how the disease environment, proxied by infant mortality rates, influenced children’s growth in interwar Japan. We use data drawn from government records from 1929 to 1939 which report the mean heights of boys and girls in school at each age (6-18) for each of Japan’s 47 prefectures. We focus on two key questions: 1) how important was the disease environment in infancy in shaping the growth pattern of children? and 2) were shocks to child health more salient in the first thousand days of life, often held as a critical window to prevent stunting, or at later ages? We quantify the characteristics of growth pattern of birth cohorts using the SITAR growth model and then relate the predicted SITAR parameters to infant mortality in the year of birth. In addition, we test for instantaneous effects of morbidity, proxied by infant mortality, on growth at ages 6-11. We find that infant mortality in early life did not have a strong influence on the growth pattern of children, but there were statistically significant and economically meaningful instantaneous effects of infant mortality on child height at ages 6-11 for both boys and girls. This suggests that interventions outside of the thousand-day critical window can be effective and that the secular increase in height in interwar Japan was more strongly influenced by cumulative responses to the health environment across child development rather than simply improvements in early life health.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/explorations...
Additional Information: © 2018 the Author(s)
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
JEL classification: I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I1 - Health > I18 - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J1 - Demographic Economics > J13 - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
N - Economic History > N3 - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income, and Wealth > N33 - Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income and Wealth: Europe: Pre-1913
N - Economic History > N3 - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income, and Wealth > N35 - Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income and Wealth: Asia including Middle East
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O1 - Economic Development > O15 - Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
Sets: Departments > Economic History
Date Deposited: 30 May 2018 10:47
Last Modified: 20 Feb 2019 06:48
Projects: ES/L010267/1, 16K17153
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council, Tokyo Institute of Technology, JSPS KAKENHI
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/88115

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