NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Measure of Man and Older Age Mortality: Evidence from the Gould Sample

Dora L. Costa

NBER Working Paper No. 8843
Issued in March 2002
NBER Program(s):   AG   CH   DAE   LS

This paper documents differences in body size between white, black, and Indian mid-nineteenth century American men and investigates the socioeconomic and demographic determinants of frame size using a unique data set of Civil War soldiers. It finds that over time men have grown taller and heavier and have relatively less abdominal fat. Abdominal fat in young adulthood was an excellent predictor of older age mortality from ischemic heart disease or stroke. Changes in frame size explain roughly three-fifths of the mortality decline among white men between 1915 and 1988 and predict even sharper declines in older age mortality between 1988 and 2022. Data accompanying this paper can be found at www.nber.org/gould.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w8843

Published: Costa, Dora L., 2004. "The Measure of Man and Older Age Mortality: Evidence from the Gould Sample," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 64(01), pages 1-23, March. citation courtesy of

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