Late 19th and Early 20th Century Native and Immigrant Body Mass Index Values

53 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2018

See all articles by Scott A. Carson

Scott A. Carson

University of Texas of the Permian Basin; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: December 11, 2017

Abstract

When traditional measures for health and economic welfare are scarce or unreliable, height and the body mass index (BMI) are now well-accepted measures that reflect net nutrition during economic development. To date, there is no study that compares 19th century BMIs of immigrants and US natives. Individuals in the New South and West had high BMIs, while those in the upper South and Northeast had lower BMIs. Immigrants from Europe had the highest BMIs, while immigrants from Asia were the lowest. African-Americans and mixed-race individuals had greater BMIs than fairer complexioned whites. After accounting for occupational selection, workers in agricultural occupations had greater BMIs. Close proximity to rural agriculture decreased the relative price of food, increased net nutrition, and was associated with higher BMIs.

Keywords: Nineteenth Century US Health, Immigrant Health, BMI, Malnourishment, Obesity

JEL Classification: I120, I310, J700, N310

Suggested Citation

Carson, Scott A., Late 19th and Early 20th Century Native and Immigrant Body Mass Index Values (December 11, 2017). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 6771, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3109325

Scott A. Carson (Contact Author)

University of Texas of the Permian Basin ( email )

4901 East University
Odessa, TX 79762
United States

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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