Health, Height, Height Shrinkage and Ses at Older Ages: Evidence from China

50 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2012

See all articles by Wei Huang

Wei Huang

Harvard University - Department of Economics; NBER; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Xiaoyan Lei

Peking University - CCER

Geert Ridder

University of Southern California

John Strauss

University of Southern California - Department of Economics

Yaohui Zhao

Peking University

Abstract

Adult height, as a marker of childhood health, has recently become a focus in understanding the relationship between childhood health and health outcomes at older ages. However, measured height of the older individuals is contaminated by height shrinkage from aging. Height shrinkage, in turn may be correlated with health conditions and socio-economic status from throughout the life-cycle. In this case it would be problematic to use measured height directly in regressions without considering such an effect. In this paper, we tackle this problem by using upper arm length and lower leg length to estimate a pre-shrinkage height function for a younger population that should not have started their shrinkage. We then use these estimated coefficients to predict pre-shrinkage heights for an older population, for which we also have upper arm and lower leg lengths. We then estimate height shrinkage for this older population and examine the associations between shrinkage and socio-economic status variables. We provide evidence that height shrinkage for both men and women is negatively associated with better current SES and early life conditions and, for women, positively with pre-shrinkage height. We then investigate the relationships between pre-shrinkage height, height shrinkage and a rich set of health outcomes of older respondents, finding that height shrinkage is positively associated with poor health outcomes across a variety of outcomes, with results for older age cognition being especially strong. Indeed height shrinkage is more strongly associated with later life outcomes than is pre-shrinkage height, suggesting that later life conditions are especially important correlates for these outcomes.

Keywords: height, height shrinkage, health, China

JEL Classification: D1, I12, J13

Suggested Citation

Huang, Wei and Lei, Xiaoyan and Ridder, Geert and Strauss, John and Zhao, Yaohui, Health, Height, Height Shrinkage and Ses at Older Ages: Evidence from China. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6489. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2043491

Wei Huang

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

NBER ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Xiaoyan Lei

Peking University - CCER ( email )

No. 38 Xueyuan Road
Haidian District
Beijing, Beijing 100871
China

Geert Ridder

University of Southern California ( email )

Kaprielian Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
213-740-2110 (Phone)
213-740-8543 (Fax)

John Strauss

University of Southern California - Department of Economics ( email )

306A Kaprielian Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Yaohui Zhao

Peking University ( email )

Department of Economics
Beijing 100871
China

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