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Infant mortality, income and adult stature in Spain

Mariano Bosch (), Carlos Bozzoli and Climent Quintana-Domeque ()

No 2009-27, Working Papers from FEDEA

Abstract: This paper presents new evidence on the relationship between infant mortality at the year of birth and adult stature using regional data for five cohorts in Spain, born between 1969 and 1986, a period of significant economic and social transformation. Consistent with previous studies, we find that there is a strong negative correlation between infant mortality and adult height, even after controlling for: secular changes affecting both infant mortality and adult height, constant differences across regions, and economic conditions at birth. Interestingly, we do not find a role for either GDP per capita or income inequality in the year of birth in explaining average cohort height after accounting for infant mortality in the year of birth. Disease, not income, appears to have been the constraining factor in Spain, at least after 1969. The burden of disease in childhood can have long-lasting effects on health, reflected in differences in adult stature. Our results resonate on recent empirical findings for developed and developing countries, and suggest that the epidemiological transition in the 20 years leading to Spain’s entry into European Union led to subsequent improvements in adult height.

Date: 2009-09
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