Short and Long-Term Impacts of Famines. The Case of the Siege of Paris, 1870-1871

Denis Cogneau, Paris School of Economics
Lionel Kesztenbaum, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

From September 1870 to May 1871, the siege of Paris, first by the Prussian army then by 'legalist' French troops, resulted in a harsh famine. We study the impact of this shock on both child mortality and the height stature of survivors, with a specific focus on the selection effects linked to excess mortality. To this aim we collect original data on 20 year-old military conscripts born in one of the poorest district of Paris between 1855 and 1875; conscripts born in the poorest district of Lyonare used as a comparison group. The analysis of stature evolution across cohorts reveals a rather unusual pattern: a large drop in height of 2 centimeters is observed for cohorts who were 7 to 9 year-old by the time of the siege, whereas younger children seem unaffected. Using data from population censuses we then examine whether selection effects can account for this specific timing.

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Presented in Session 78: The Effect of War on Health and Mortality