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The Short and the Dead: Nutrition, Mortality, and the "Antebellum Puzzle" in the United States

Michael R. Haines, Lee A. Craig and Thomas Weiss
The Journal of Economic History
Vol. 63, No. 2 (Jun., 2003), pp. 382-413
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3132441
Page Count: 32
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The Short and the Dead: Nutrition, Mortality, and the "Antebellum Puzzle" in the United States
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Abstract

Between 1830 and 1860 the United States experienced rapid economic growth but declining stature and rising mortality. Debate has centered on whether the American diet deteriorated in the mid-nineteenth century. Employing census and muster records, this article tests the hypotheses that adult height was positively correlated with local production of nutrients in early childhood and negatively correlated with local mortality conditions, urbanization, proximity to transport, and population mobility. Results indicate that antebellum economic growth was accompanied by an increasing nationalization and internationalization of the disease environment, which affected the health and longevity of the population.

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