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Economic History Seminar - Eric Schneider (LSE)

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Location: S2.79

Title: Worldwide Child Stunting since the Nineteenth Century

Abstract: This paper conducts a meta-analysis of 877 historical child growth studies to reconstruct child stunting rates, the share of children who are too short for their age, for 121 countries from the earliest date possible to the present. This data complements and extends the modern Joint Malnutrition Estimates database of country-level stunting rates, which begins in the 1980s. We find that many European countries had stunting rates similar to current LMICs at the turn of the twenti- eth century, but child stunting fell in the early twentieth century reaching very low levels before World War II. Stunting rates were also very high in Japan and Korea. However, stunting rates were surprisingly low historically in the European settler colonies, Eastern Europe and the Caribbean. Historical comparisons of child stunting add a new dimension to the historical health transition and allow for more direct historical lessons for the fight against stunting today.

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