Trends in female adult height and GDP per capita in sub-Saharan Africa

Michel Garenne, Institut Pasteur

The paper presents the correlation between trends in female adult height and in GDP per capita in 30 countries of sub-Saharan Africa. Anthropometric data are drawn from DHS surveys, which provide mean height by cohort for women born between 1930 and 1990. Income data are drawn from the database gathered by Angus Maddison, from 1950 to 2008. The correlation between both trends was found very high (0.97). When GDP increases, the height of adult women increases, and when GDP declines the same happens to women’s height. This correlation is analyzed by four major population groups: West and Central Africa, Sahelian countries, Eastern Africa and Southern Africa, and further analyzed by period of changes in GDP at country level. The pattern found in Africa is compared with similar historical situations of declining adult height in Europe and in South Asia.

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Presented in Session 59: Trends, patterns, and consequences of non-communicable diseases in Africa