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Numeracy and the impact of high food prices in industrializing Britain, 1780–1850


Baten, Jörg; Crayen, Dorothee; Voth, Hans-Joachim (2014). Numeracy and the impact of high food prices in industrializing Britain, 1780–1850. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 96(3):418-430.

Abstract

Using census-based data on the ability to recall one's age, we show that low levels of nutrition impaired numeracy in industrializing England, 1780 to 1850: cognitive ability declined among those born during the Napoleonic wars. The effect was stronger in areas where grain was expensive and relief for the poor, an early form of welfare support was limited. Nutritional shortages had a nonlinear effect on numeracy, with, severe shortages impairing numeracy more. Nutrition during childhood also mattered for labor market outcomes: individuals born in periods or counties with low numeracy typically worked in occupations with lower earnings.

Abstract

Using census-based data on the ability to recall one's age, we show that low levels of nutrition impaired numeracy in industrializing England, 1780 to 1850: cognitive ability declined among those born during the Napoleonic wars. The effect was stronger in areas where grain was expensive and relief for the poor, an early form of welfare support was limited. Nutritional shortages had a nonlinear effect on numeracy, with, severe shortages impairing numeracy more. Nutrition during childhood also mattered for labor market outcomes: individuals born in periods or counties with low numeracy typically worked in occupations with lower earnings.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:15 July 2014
Deposited On:10 Nov 2014 07:51
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 18:29
Publisher:MIT Press
ISSN:0034-6535
Additional Information:Copyright: MIT Press
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1162/REST_a_00403

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