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Sample-Selection Bias and Height Trends in the Nineteenth-Century United States

Ariell Zimran

NBER Working Paper No. 24815
Issued in July 2018
NBER Program(s):Development of the American Economy

After adjusting for sample-selection bias, I find a net decline in average stature of 0.64 inches in the birth cohorts of 1832--1860 in the US. This result supports the veracity of the Antebellum Puzzle—a deterioration of health during early modern economic growth in the US. However, this adjustment alters the trend in average stature, validating concerns over bias in the historical heights literature. The adjustment is based on census-linked military height data and uses a two-step semi-parametric sample-selection model to adjust for selection on observables and unobservables.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24815

 
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