Gender Difference in the Long-Term Impacts of Famine

Ren Mu, Texas A&M University
Xiaobo Zhang, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

There is an increasing literature that examines the association between restricted fetal or early childhood growth and the incidence of diseases in adulthood. Little is known, however, about gender difference in this association. We assess the impact of nutritional deficiency in early life caused by the Chinese Great Famine on famine survivors, in terms of health and economic welfare, paying special attention to gender differences. We find evidence of multiple, significant negative impacts for female  but not male  survivors, and the gender differences are statistically significant. Furthermore, based on evidence that supports the association between famine severity and gender-specific mortality, we show that the selection bias due to differences in mortality plausibly explains over two-thirds of the documented gender difference in the long-term health of famine survivors.

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Presented in Session 169: Gender and Health Risks over the Life Course