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The Measure of Man and Older Age Mortality: Evidence from the Gould Sample

Dora Costa

The Journal of Economic History, 2004, vol. 64, issue 1, 1-23

Abstract: This article documents differences in body size between white, black, and Indian mid-nineteenth-century American men and investigates the socioeconomic and demographic determinants of frame size using a unique data set of Civil War soldiers. It finds that over time men have grown taller and heavier and have relatively less abdominal fat, implying that “modern†chronic diseases such as ischemic heart disease were common in the past. Changes in frame size explain almost half of the mortality decline among white men between 1914 and 1988 and predict even sharper declines in older age mortality between 1988 and 2022.

Date: 2004
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