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date: 21 September 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Female heights matter. They matter for girls’ and women’s health and productivity, as a measure of inequality, and—significantly—as a bridge transferring welfare across generations. This chapter examines some of the early historiography on female stature and summarizes the historical evidence. The focus then shifts to how we understand the growth of girls versus boys and the methods used to measure historical populations. The chapter then outlines some of the risks of being stunted, identified in a set of empirical relationships among height, weight, morbidity, and mortality that are a function of both age and sex. The chapter then looks at the unique role of mothers and the way their stature not only records the accumulated experience of their own nutrition and welfare history, but how it intimately shapes the generations to come, critically influencing future economic performance.

Keywords: female stature, economic development, maternal health, child well-being, gender inequality, stunted, growth velocity

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