Dimensions and Determinants of Early Childhood Health and Mortality Among American Slaves

46 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2004 Last revised: 19 Jul 2010

See all articles by Richard H. Steckel

Richard H. Steckel

Ohio State University (OSU) - Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: July 1985

Abstract

This paper relies on birth and death lists from plantation records to investigate the causes of low birth weight and poor health of young slave children. The sources of deprivation can be traced to the fetal period. The slave work routine was arduous overall and particularily intense during planting, hoeing, and harvesting. These demands combined with seasonal fluctuations in disease and in the quality of the diet implied that few newborns had escaped stress on intrauterine growth. Starchy food supplements given soon after birth and poor sanitation surrounding feeding provided a poor environment for growth during the first year of life.

Suggested Citation

Steckel, Richard H., Dimensions and Determinants of Early Childhood Health and Mortality Among American Slaves (July 1985). NBER Working Paper No. w1662, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=338754

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