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Shawn A Osell
''A Substitution Effect as a Possible Cause for the Antebellum Heights Puzzle''
( 2018, Vol. 38 No.4 )
The first half of the nineteenth century was a time of significant economic growth in the United States. Economic growth generally coincides with increasing real wages and better health and nutrition. It is also common to see increasing stature of a nation over time as a result of economic development. Ironically, the antebellum period was a time of decreasing average stature. This contradiction is referred to as the antebellum puzzle. The literature regarding this puzzle offers some possible explanations. We focus on one possible hypothesis for the antebellum puzzle. Changes in Nutrition and Diet may have resulted from a transformation in the composition of US economic production leading to a temporary decrease in overall stature. This paper examines if there was a substitution effect between manufactured goods and agricultural output as the US developed during the antebellum period. Because of the lack of data about nutrition during the 1800s, stature is used as a proxy to reflect one's diet in the early stages of life. Our research finds that a substitution effect between manufactured goods and agriculture output may have contributed to the antebellum puzzle.
Keywords: Antebellum, stature, substitution effect.
JEL: N3 - Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income and Wealth: General, International, or Comparative
O1 - Economic Development: General
Manuscript Received : Jan 17 2018 Manuscript Accepted : Oct 17 2018

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