Asher Rosinger and Ricardo Godoy
Weight and height are critical indicators of short- and long-term human nutrition and health. This chapter reviews secular trends of weight, height, and body mass index (BMI) from studies that relied on primary data of living adults in small-scale, native populations in rural areas of developing nations. Most studies reviewed found trends of increases in weight and BMI over an average study period of 20 years. Women gained an average of 8.8 kg and 3.1 kg/m2, and men gained an average of 5.1 kg and 2.1 kg/m2 over this time span. Additionally, 10 of 13 native populations reviewed had a recent overweight and obesity prevalence of at least 10 percentage points lower than the national averages for men and women combined. In contrast to weight, 12 out of 21 studies found no change (n = 8) or a decline (n = 4) in secular trends of height.
Jeffrey D. Sachs
Sub-Saharan Africa’s opportunity to escape from poverty is real and opportune, but the delayed demographic transition to low mortality and low fertility poses a serious risk. Without a faster demographic transition, Africa is likely to experience an unmanageable surge of population, youth dependency, etc. The demographic transition would combine greatly improved health outcomes with a large, rapid, and voluntary reduction of fertility rates. A low-fertility trajectory has the characteristics of a lower population growth rate and youth dependency ratio; and a higher ratio of arable land to population, rate of urbanization, level of schooling, level of human capital, total factor productivity, and GDP per capita. Accelerating the demographic transition would make it possible to limit the rise in Africa’s future population substantially, and thereby accelerate urbanization, schooling, technological advance, and economic growth.
Harold O. Fried and Loren W. Tauer
This article explores how well an individual manages his or her own talent to achieve high performance in an individual sport. Its setting is the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). The order-m approach is explained. Additionally, the data and the empirical findings are presented. The inputs measure fundamental golfing athletic ability. The output measures success on the LPGA tour. The correlation coefficient between earnings per event and the ability to perform under pressure is 0.48. The careers of golfers occur on the front end of the age distribution. There is a classic trade-off between the inevitable deterioration in the mental ability to handle the pressure and experience gained with time. The ability to perform under pressure peaks at age 37.
This chapter examines the changes in demographics in selected Asian Pacific countries and traces the impacts of those changes for intergenerational transfers. It provides detailed projections of demographic dividends and argues that policy response to age compositional changes will have significant influence on economic growth and poverty, intergenerational equity and social welfare for decades to come. It also evaluates the relevant experience of Japan, using the National Transfer Accounts (NTA) approach.
Richard H. Steckel
Beginning with Bismarck’s Germany in the late 19th century, nations gave increasing attention to measures of well-being while traveling the path to welfare states of the 20th century. Following the ascent of the germ theory of disease, governments could play a large and cost-effective role in serving public health and national competitiveness. The Great Depression energized the creation of a second important policy tool, national income accounts. This chapter discusses the evolution and application of biological measures of well-being, with comparisons to per capita gross domestic product from vital registration and life tables to morbidity and to anthropometric measures such as stature, weight, and skeletal remains. Recently, surveys of happiness have entered scholarly debate.
Deborah A. Cobb-Clark
This article explores whether new research linking economic decision-making to human biology provides an explanation for gendered labor market outcomes, in particular the gender wage gap. Literature in four broad areas is reviewed: behavioral endocrinology (hormones), human genetics (behavioral genetics and genoeconomics), neuroeconomics, and sensory functioning and time-space perceptions. Often the research focus is on biologically-based differences in men’s and women’s abilities to make decisions more generally, and one is left to speculate about the implications for labor market outcomes specifically. Therefore, the article concludes by highlighting some of the fundamental issues that are not yet understood and offering some priorities for future research.
This chapter provides an overview of research primarily within the discipline of economics that empirically examines how biomarkers influences specific health and socioeconomic outcomes. Since the role that biomarkers are hypothesized to play in the estimating equation differs across studies, a distinction is first made between two separate categories of biomarkers: biological time-varying measures such as hormones and biological time-invariant measures including DNA. Recent research in these two categories is then reviewed, focusing on studies that can present the most credible evidence of the role of specific biomarkers. Last, an emerging literature that focuses on the interactions between time-varying environmental conditions and time-invariant genetic factors is discussed. The chapter concludes by highlights three promising areas for future research and suggesting researchers should shift their attention away from investigating specific candidate genes to polygenic risk scores, as well as focus on genetic interactions with more aggregated rather than specific environmental influences.
W. Peter Ward
Birth weight is a biometric measure of well-being widely used as an infant health indicator. It also offers insights into maternal and population health more generally. The most common measures of weight at birth are the mean and the proportion of low birth weight (LBW; less than 2,500 g) infants. LBW neonates experience higher risk of infant morbidity and mortality. Globally, LBW rates average 15%. Wealthy Western societies generally experience the highest mean weights whereas the lowest are found in some of the globe’s poorest nations. Factors affecting newborn weight fall into five categories: genetic, environmental, gestational, socioeconomic, and nutritional. Studies of birth weight concerned with change over time reveal important regional and temporal differences, notably during times of social and economic crisis. Numerous studies have identified relationships between low birth weight and a range of health problems in later life, including hypertension, coronary heart disease and non-insulin-dependent diabetes.