Alexander Moradi and Kalle Hirvonen
African adult populations are remarkably tall for the low income levels that prevail at the country level. The average African woman is about 158.5 cm tall, whereas the low gross domestic product per capita would lead us to expect a mean height more similar to the shortest populations in the world, about 4 cm shorter. This is the case in spite of the fact that indicators of socioeconomic status and height are positively correlated within each country. The chapter also shows that the physical stature of African children fit well into the global income–height relationship. Hence, we conclude that the anomaly in the income–height nexus at country level appears to originate between childhood and adulthood. We present evidence for considerable catch-up growth involving entire populations. We discuss possible reasons for this catch-up growth including genetics, and, above all, better nutrition and health conditions during adolescence.
Elizabeth Frankenberg, Jessica Ho, and Duncan Thomas
With populations aging and the epidemic of obesity spreading across the globe, global health risks are shifting toward noncommunicable diseases. Innovative biomarker data from recently conducted population-representative surveys in lower, middle, and higher income countries are used to describe how four key biological health risks—hypertension, cholesterol, glucose, and inflammation—vary with economic development and, within each country, with age, gender, and education. As obesity rises in lower income countries, the burden of noncommunicable diseases will rise in roughly predictable ways, and the costs to society are potentially very large. Investigations that explain cross-country differences in these relationships will have a major impact on advancing the understanding of the complex interplay among biology, health, and development.
Claudio de Moura Castro
This chapter examines the evolution of education in Brazil over the long term. It is established that historical circumstances allied to successive policy failures help account for Brazil’s disappointing performance in the educational field in international comparative terms. In 1920, the system covered 9% of school-age children, 26% by 1950 and, more recently, 98% of 6–14-year-old children have been covered. The acceleration in growth, particularly since the 1950s, has been an impressive achievement. The latest records indicate that 71% of the relevant age cohort finishes basic education. Secondary education is completed by 51%. Compared to the past, this is quite an achievement. Compared to world or even Latin American standards, these results are mediocre at best. The available tests indicate weak performance. The chapter highlights the kinds of issues that will need to be addressed if this situation is to be tackled adequately.
This chapter discusses dimensions of inequality in sub-Saharan Africa and their causes. It starts with a review of the empirical evidence about inequality during the colonial period as well as the post-independence era. Then it discusses the forces that determine inequality change, focusing on factor accumulation and structural change. Next it considers the relationship between inequality and growth, the role of agriculture in the development process, the relationships between ethnicity and social stratification and governance, and external influences on inequality. The chapter concludes with some comments on what policy interventions can do to reduce inequality.
Francisco H. G. Ferreira
Adrian Towse, Eric Keuffel, Hannah E. Kettler, and David B. Ridley
This article sets out the context for the problem of insufficient affordable medicines to address health issues in developing countries. It also highlights some of the drivers of recent positive trends. It then detail policies and proposals that are intended to increase access to global medicines (i.e., those with a developed country market) by lowering prices, including differential pricing, compulsory licensing, and donations. Finally, it considers policies that are aimed at encouraging the development of new medicines for neglected diseases (i.e., those prevalent only in lower-income countries) by reducing company-borne costs and risks or by expanding the expected revenue for the manufacturer through increased product demand. In particular, it describes “push” mechanisms that subsidize research inputs and “pull” mechanisms that reward research output.
Daniel Jong Schwekendiek
Body mass index, weight, and stature are reliable indicators of biological living standards. Although most studies in anthropometric history focus on Western nations, East Asian countries are of great interest as well because one-fifth of the world’s population lives in this region. This chapter reviews studies that focus on the anthropometric history of China, Japan, and Korea. Although the anthropometric measurements of contemporary urban Chinese equal those of Japan and South Korea, its rural population lags far behind. However, their anthropometric status is superior to that of North Korea, which has the worst economic performance in East Asia. Differences between the two Koreas cannot be explained by genetic predispositions alone. Japan’s anthropometrics have not matched its increasing economic power, but the quantity and quality of food intake in Japan differs from that of the rest of East Asia, suggesting that differences in food culture may account for these variations.
Moramay Lopez Alonso
This chapter examines scholarship in the field of economics and human biology from the pre-Columbian era to the present in the context of Latin America. This literature’s main themes consider the evolution of living standards in the very long run to shed light on the advantages and disadvantages of the human social development and organization process. The author examines how, through historical anthropometric studies, one can assess changes in biological standards of living to understand how they were affected by economic development in different Latin American regions. These studies confirm that anthropometric indicators are a proxy of living standards and inequality. This literature also adds to the comprehension of synergies between health and nutrition indicators and economic performance among different population groups; it shows that findings generated from this research can lead to public policy recommendations to address growing challenges in public health, such as obesity and diabetes.
Jean-Claude Berthélemy and Josselin Thuilliez
Malaria still claims a heavy human and economic toll, specifically in sub-Saharan Africa. Even though the causality between malaria and poverty is presumably bi-directional, malaria plays a role in the economic difficulties of the region. This chapter provides an analysis of the economic consequences of malaria (with an emphasis on human capital accumulation and productivity), and a discussion of policies aimed at reducing its incidence. A major initiative has been the distribution of insecticidal bed-nets at a highly subsidized price. An economic-epidemiology model is used to explain why such policy is doomed to fail in presence of a very high poverty incidence, as observed in the African region.
This chapter reviews the progress and remaining challenges in terms of raising educational quantity and quality in Latin America, focusing on primary and secondary (K-12) schooling, setting aside issues related to higher education or early childhood development. It makes the case that, in terms of quantity, the region has made substantial strides. The remaining challenges revolve around reducing delayed entry, repetition, and dropout rates. The policy outlook in this area provides some grounds for optimism, as many governments are already implementing interventions (e.g. conditional cash transfers) that have been credibly evaluated and shown to be effective at tackling these issues. Beyond this, the policy outlook in this area offers less to be optimistic about, as little is known regarding how to raise educational quality, and this knowledge base is likely to improve only slowly.