Ariell Zimran
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Sample-Selection Bias and Height Trends in the Nineteenth-Century United States
Journal of Economic History 79:1, pp. 99-138
Revised version of NBER Working Paper 24815

After adjusting for sample-selection bias, I find a net decline in average stature of 0.64 inches in the birth cohorts of 1832-1860 in the United States. This result supports the veracity of the Antebellum Puzzle--a deterioration of health during early modern economic growth in the United States. However, this adjustment alters the trend in average stature in the same cohort range, validating concerns over bias in the historical heights literature. The adjustment is based on census-linked military height data and uses a two-step semi-parametric sample-selection model to adjust for selection on observables and unobservables.