HOME » Publications » Economic Review


Vol. 55, No. 3, pp. 193-203 (2004)

“The Determinants of Height, Weight and Weight-for-height in Prewar Japan -An Analysis of Conscription Records for a North-eastern Village-”
Osamu Saito (The Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University)

This anthropometric paper is an attempt to identify the determinants of height, weight and weight-for-height of an agricultural population during the early stages of economic development, in which human growth was often retarded despite the take-off of income growth. The paper suggests that in addition to the much-discussed urban penalty effect, there must have been a rural factor that counteracted an increase in gross nutritional intake. The material used for this analysis is a set of unusually detailed conscription records for 20-year-olds who were born between 1887 and 1926 in a village of north-eastern Japan. Micro-data regression analyses conducted by controlling for the father's physical status reveal that while the coefficient of farm income is estimated to have been invariably positive, there were two kinds of negative check operating. One was the individual's migration experience which increased exposure to disease and hence had a negative effect on weight measures. The other is work intensity in farming which, via women's nutritional status, exerted an adverse influence on their children's final height.