Blum, Matthias Colvin, Christopher L. McLaughlin, Eoin
Year of Publication:
QUCEH Working Paper Series 2017-08
What impact do famines have on survivors? We use individual-level data on a population exposed to severe famine conditions during infancy to document two opposing effects. The first: exposure to insufficient food and a worsened disease environment is associated with poor health into adulthood - a scarring effect. The second: famine survivors do not themselves suffer any health impact - a selection effect. Anthropometric evidence from records pertaining to over 21,000 subjects born before, during and after the Great Irish Famine (1845-52), one of modern history's most severe famine episodes, suggests that selection is strongest where famine mortality is highest. Individuals born in heavily-affected areas experienced no measurable stunted growth, while significant scarring was found only among those born in regions where the same famine did not result in any excess mortality.
famine fetal origins hypothesis anthropometrics economic history Ireland