Sunday, April 30, 2006

Two Quotes

Below are two quotes, one from new growth theorist Paul Romer, the other from two anthropologists studying development processes in Ethiopia. In both examples a simple energy saving is made, but the outcome is quite different, in the former case living standards per capita rise, in the second more children are produced, and the nutritional status of each surviving child deteriorates. The difference between the Mathusian-regime and the modern economic growth one couldn't be more clearly illustrated.

Romer, Paul, 2007: "Economic Growth," The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, David R. Henderson, ed. Liberty Fund (Forthcoming)

"Economic growth occurs whenever people take resources and rearrange them in ways that are more valuable. A useful metaphor for production in an economy comes from the kitchen. To create valuable final products, we mix inexpensive ingredients together according to a recipe. The cooking one can do is limited by the supply of ingredients, and most cooking in the economy produces undesirable side effects. If economic growth could be achieved only by doing more and more of the same kind of cooking, we would eventually run out of raw materials and suffer from unacceptable levels of pollution and nuisance. Human history teaches us, however, that economic growth springs from better recipes, not just from more cooking. New recipes generally produce fewer unpleasant side effects and generate more economic value per unit of raw material".

"Take one small example. In most coffee shops, you can now use the same size lid for small, medium, and large cups of coffee. That wasn’t true as recently as 1995. That small change in the geometry of the cups means that a coffee shop can serve customers at lower cost. Store owners need to manage the inventory for only one type of lid. Employees can replenish supplies more quickly throughout the day. Customers can get their coffee just a bit faster. Such big discoveries as the transistor, antibiotics, and the electric motor attract most of the attention, but it takes millions of little discoveries like the new design for the cup and lid to double average income in a nation."

An Energy-Saving Development Initiative Increases Birth Rate and Childhood Malnutrition in Rural Ethiopia, Mhairi A. Gibson, Ruth Mace

"In the villages of Hitosa and Dodota subdistricts......Water shortages, particularly during the dry season months (December to April) can be severe. Mean precipitation is less than 700 mm and there are no perennial rivers. Traditionally, women have borne the brunt of water collection, some transporting the water on their backs in clay pots (insera) for distances of up to 30 km. However, between 1996 and 2000 some villages benefited from a water development scheme (the Hitosa Gravity Water Supply Scheme), which has reduced both the energy and time women spent carrying water following the installation of village-level tap stands (Table 1). Women state their time spent carrying water has been reduced from around three hours to 15 minutes during the driest months. This time is now employed in more social activities, as well as standing in line at the tap stands."

"This study is the first, to our knowledge, to demonstrate a link between a specific technological intervention and an increase in birth rate and decrease in mortality at the village level. The increased birth rate is likely to be mediated by improvements in women's workloads, brought about by reducing energetic expenditure on water collection, since women's nutritional levels, breast feeding practices, and health do not vary (Table 5). Female health outcomes (nutritional status and morbidity levels) do not appear to be influenced by reduced workloads, lending support to the idea that women's surplus energy is diverted towards reproduction. Increased levels of child survival are likely to relate to improvements in the quality and quantity of water supply [47,48] and greater opportunities for direct maternal childcare. We propose that the energy saved by a new development technology is being diverted to enhance fertility and reduce mortality; however, since the underlying resources in the system are limited, this comes at the cost of an increase in childhood malnutrition."

Demography And Development

Development and Demography: A Relationship That Requires Research Editorial, The PLoS Medicine Editors

An Energy-Saving Development Initiative Increases Birth Rate and Childhood Malnutrition in Rural Ethiopia, Mhairi A. Gibson, Ruth Mace


Evolutionary life history theory predicts that, in the absence of contraception, any enhancement of maternal condition can increase human fertility. Energetic trade-offs are likely to be resolved in favour of maximizing reproductive success rather than health or longevity. Here we find support for the hypothesis that development initiatives designed to improve maternal and child welfare may also incur costs associated with increased family sizes if they do not include a family planning component.

This study is, to our knowledge, the first to demonstrate a link between a technological development intervention and an increase in both birth rate and childhood malnutrition. Women's nutritional status was not improved by the energy-saving technology, because energy was diverted into higher birth rates. We argue that the contribution of biological processes to increased birth rates in areas of the developing world without access to modern contraception has been overlooked. This highlights the continued need for development programmes to be multisectoral, including access to and promotion of contraception.

Energetics and Reproductive Effort

Natural selection favors the optimal allocation of energy and other limiting
resources to reproduction. Human reproductive physiology displays characteristic patterns that can be viewed as mechanisms that help optimize reproductive effort in the face of environmental energetic constraints. Female ovarian function is particularly sensitive to energy balance and energy flux, resulting in a synchronization of conception with favorable energetic conditions. Reproductive effort during gestation is highly buffered from environmental energetic constraints, but the duration of gestation and final birthweight are both very sensitive to maternal energy availability. Milk production during lactation is relatively buffered from maternal energetic constraints as well, but the duration of lactational amenorrhea is sensitive to the relative metabolic load of lactation. Male gamete production is very insensitive to energetic constraints, but variation in testosterone production in response to both age and longer-lasting energetic conditions contributes to the modulation of somatic and behavioral aspects of male reproductive effort, aspects that are more energetically costly for a male. There is also new evidence that testosterone may also help to modulate the trade-off between male parenting and mating effort.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Crises and Child Health Outcomes

Crises and Child Health Outcomes, The Impacts of Economic and Drought/smoke Crises on Infant Mortality and Birthweight in Indonesia. Pungpond Rukumnuaykit, Michigan State University, 2003.

This paper examines the impacts of the recent Asian financial crisis on infant mortality and birthweight in Indonesia. There have been a number of economic and policy studies focusing on impacts of economic crises on finance and production.

Although some studies provide evidence of negative impacts of economic crises on real outcomes, little is known about the impact of economic crises on child health outcomes such as changes in nutrition, child health, and mortality. Often, the association between financial and production disturbances and these outcomes are assumed (e.g. an adverse shock to production is thought to be associated with worse child health outcomes.). This paper utilizes data from the Indonesian Family Life Survey (IFLS) to examine impacts of the crises on child health outcomes directly. Specifically, we study the impacts of the crises on birthweight and infant mortality.

Long Term Fluctations in Climate and Population

The history of thought seems riddled with injustice. Some names shine with a brilliance which is scarcely merited, while others, who are truly innovative and creative remain in an obscurity which is often hard to understand. My feeling is that the name Patrick R Galloway is one which belongs to this latter group.

Long-Term Fluctuations in Climate and Population in the Preindustrial Era
Patrick R. Galloway, Population and Development Review, Vol. 12, No. 1 (Mar., 1986) , pp. 1-24


Advances in climatological history have yielded new evidence to support the view that climate has been an important influence on long-run demographic fluctuations. A model is proposed in which long-term changes in climate affect population growth directly through the effect of variations in temperature on vital rates and indirectly through its effect on food supply. The model is tested using data from western Europe, China, and middle latitude marginal areas. Over the long term, periods of cooling appear to be strongly associated with periods of depressed population growth.

Basic Patterns in Annual Variations in Fertility, Nuptiality, Mortality, and Prices in Pre-industrial Europe, Patrick R. Galloway, Population Studies, Volume 42, Number 2 / July 1988, Pages: 275 - 303


Examination of the responses of vital rates to variations in grain prices in nine pre-industrial European countries confirms the existence of the short-term Malthusian preventive and positive checks. The structure and magnitude of the preventive check are strikingly similar in all countries and all periods. On the other hand, the strength of the positive check varies widely and in remarkable accord with measures of economic development. The size of the positive relative to the preventive check diminishes as economic development increases. Among the countries examined, differences in the response of population growth rates to price fluctuations can be attributed primarily to differences in the strength of the positive check.

Patrick R. Galloway, Differentials in demographic responses to annual price variations in pre-revolutionary France A comparison of rich and poor areas in rouen, 1681 to 1787, European Journal of Population, Volume 2, Numbers 3-4, May 1987, Pages: 269 - 305

Abstract An examination of the annual responses of vital events to variations in wheat prices among groups of parishes in the city of Rouen from 1681 to 1787 reveals significant differences between rich and poor parishes in the strength of the preventive check. The urban poor respond to a price increase by dramatically decreasing fertility, while the fertility of the urban wealthy is virtually unaffected. An increase in prices is associated with relatively large increases in mortality, suggesting a strong positive check. However, little difference can be found between the rich and poor areas in the magnitude or timing of mortality responses to price variations.



The origins of this project were two-fold.

1. The general conclusions of the Princeton European Fertility Project (PEFP), to the effect that economic and structural factors cannot be shown to have important effects as determinants of the level of fertility or of its decline, are contrary both to intuition and to theoretical expectation.

2. The quality and local specificity of the data on Prussia c. 1849-1914 permit much closer testing of the determinants of fertility and of fertility decline than the PEFP was able to use. In order to achieve comparability across a broad range of countries with available data, PEFP was obliged to use major regional units, akin to provinces or states. However, for much of the late mediaeval and early modern periods such units were largely autarkic economies with substantial internal variation, such that the variance between such units was likely to be less than the variance within them, in respect of variables of interest. Thus, comparison between such units suffered from minimal variance in the variables of interest, other than those of national identity (including language). The data on Prussia, however, are at the Kreis level and permit much closer testing of hypotheses about the relationship between structural and demographic variables. Realization of the possibilities in the Prussian materials led Galloway to formulate an approach, which, implemented with the participation of Hammel and Lee, led to the UC Prussia Project (UCPP).

The general conclusions of the research are that socalled cultural variables, proxied by language and religion, are important determinants of the level of fertility but not of the rate of fertility decline. On the other hand, structural and economic variables are powerful determinants of the rate of fertility decline and thus in the long run must be determinants of ultimate levels of fertility. This formulation, supported by sophisticated pooled time series analysis of data of impeccable quality, is an important refinement of the conclusions of PEFP by UCPP.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Haemoglobin, Anaemia and the Disease Load

GILGEN, D and C. G. N. MASCIE-TAYLOR, (2001) The effect of anthelmintic treatment on helminth infection and anaemia, Parasitology, 122: 105-110 Cambridge University Press


A 24-week randomized double blind intervention trial was conducted on adult female tea pluckers from an estate in Bangladesh to investigate the impact of iron supplementation and anthelmintic treatment on changes in ferritin and haemoglobin levels as well as on prevalence and intensity of helminth infections. A total of 553 women were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 intervention groups: group 1 received iron supplementation on a weekly basis, group 2 received anthelmintic treatment at the beginning and half way through the trial, group 3 received both iron supplementation as group 1 and anthelmintic treatment as group 2, and group 4 was a control group and received placebos for both iron supplementation and anthelmintic treatment. Prevalence and intensity of helminth infections (egg counts/g stool) of Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura and hookworms significantly fell in the 2 groups receiving anthelmintic treatment and there were some reductions in the 2 groups not receiving anthelminthic treatment. Haemoglobin and haematocrit concentrations increased significantly in the iron supplemented groups with smaller increases in the anthelmintic only group. All women showed a decrease in serum ferritin levels post-trial with greater losses in the 2 dewormed groups. Significant negative associations were found between hookworm egg counts and ferritin levels and Trichuris trichiura egg counts and haemoglobin concentration.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Life Long Echoes

Life-Long Echoes - A Critical Analysis of the Developmental Origins of Adult Disease Model Peter D. Gluckmana, Mark A. Hansonb, Susan M.B. Mortona, c, Catherine S. Pinal


The hypothesis that there is a developmental component to subsequent adult disease initially arose from epidemiological findings relating birth size to either indices of disease risk or actual disease prevalence in later life. While components of the epidemiological analyses have been challenged, there is strong evidence that developmental factors contribute to the later risk of metabolic disease - including insulin resistance, obesity, and heart disease - as well as have a broader impact on osteoporosis, depression and schizophrenia. We suggest that disease risk is greater when there is a mismatch between the early developmental environment (i.e., the phase of developmental plasticity) versus that experienced in mature life (i.e., adulthood), and that nutritional influences are particularly important. It is also critical to distinguish between those factors acting during the developmental phase that disrupt development from those influences that are less extreme and act through regulated processes of epigenetic change. A modelof the relationship between the developmental and mature environment is proposed and suggests interventional strategies that will vary in different population settings.

Neil B. Metcalfe and and Pat Monaghan, 2003. Growth versus lifespan: perspectives from evolutionary ecology, Experimental Gerontology Volume 38, Issue 9 , 1 September 2003, Pages 935-940

Marc Mangel and Stephan B. Munch, 2005. A Life-History Perspective on Short- and Long-Term Consequences of Compensatory Growth, the american naturalist, vol. 166, no. 6, December 2005

Peter D. Gluckman, Mark A. Hanson and Hamish G. Spencer, 2005, Predictive adaptive responses and human evolution,TRENDS in Ecology and Evolution Vol.20 No.10 October 2005

ROBERT E. RICKLEFS & ALEX SCHEUERLEIN, 2005, Life Span in the Light of Avian Life Histories

Ruth Mace, 2000. Evolutionary ecology of human life history, ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR, 2000, 59, 1–10

Becker's Predecessors

The Optimal Balance between Size and Number of Offspring Christopher C. Smith, Stephen D. Fretwell, American Naturalist, Vol. 108, No. 962 (Jul. - Aug., 1974) , pp. 499-506


The relationship between the energy expended per offspring, fitness of offspring, and parental fitness is presented in a two-dimensional graphical model. The validity of the model in determining an optimal parental strategy is demonstrated analytically. The model applies under various conditions of parental care and sibling care for the offspring but is most useful for species that produce numerous small offspring which are given no parental care.

Lack D. 1947. The significance of clutch size. Ibis 89: 302-352

The Ache Of Paraguay

Here are a selection of links related to the work of Hill and Hurtado on the Ache of Paraguay:

Who are the Ache?

The paradoxical nature of hunter-gatherer diets: meat-based, yet non-atherogenic, L Cordain, SB Eaton, J Brand Miller, N Mann and K Hill, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2002) 56, Suppl 1, S42–S52

Polymorphisms of CYP1A1, CYP2E1, GSTM1, GSTT1, and TP53 Genes in Amerindians
Pedro A. Gaspar, Mara H. Hutz,1 Francisco M. Salzano,1 Kim Hill, A. Magdalena Hurtado,M. Luiza Petzl-Erler, Luiza T. Tsuneto, and Tania A. Weimer, AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY 119:249–256 (2002)

Food Transfers Among Hiwi Foragers of Venezuela: Tests of Reciprocity, Michael Gurven, Kim Hill, Hillard Kaplan, Ana Hurtado, and Richard Lyles, Human Ecology, Vol. 28, No. 2, 2000

Hunter-Gatherers of the New World, Kim Hill, A. Magdalena Hurtado

2005 Walker, R. S. , K. Hill, O. Burger, A.M. Hurtado. Life in the slow lane revisited: ontogenetic separation between chimpanzees and humans. In press, American J. Physical Anthropology. 128:000-000.

1996 Hill, K. and A.M. Hurtado
Ache Life History: The Ecology and Demography of a Foraging People. Aldine Press.

Chapter Two Part One

Chapter Two part two

Hurtado A. M., K. Hill, H. Kaplan, J. Lancaster. 2001 The epidemiology of
infectious diseases among South American Indians
. Current Anthropology, v. 42(3): 425-432.

Hill, K., C. Boesch, J. Goodall, A. Pussey, J. Williams and R. Wrangham. 2001, Chimpanzee Mortality in the Wild. Journal of Human Evolution 40: 437-450.

Kaplan, H., K. Hill, J. Lancaster, and A.M. Hurtado. 2000 The Evolution of intelligence and the Human life history, Evolutionary Anthropology, 9(4): 156-184.

Hill, K. and H. Kaplan. 1999. Life History Traits in Humans: Theory and empirical studies. Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 28:397-430

Hill, K. 1993. Life History Theory and Evolutionary Anthropology. Evolutionary Anthropology. 2(3):78-88.

Hurtado, A.M. and K. Hill. 1990. Seasonality in a foraging society: variation in diet, work effort, fertility, and the sexual division of labor among the Hiwi of Venezuela. Journal of Anthropological Research. Vol 46(3):293-346

Nutrition and Mortality

Malnutrition and Energy Restriction Differentially Affect Viral Immunity, Barry W. Ritz and Elizabeth M. Gardner, American Society for Nutrition J. Nutr. 136:1141-1144, May 2006

Historical Concepts of Interactions, Synergism and Antagonism between Nutrition and Infection, Nevin S. Scrimshaw, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA and Food and Nutrition Programme, United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan, The American Society for Nutritional Sciences J. Nutr. 133:316S-321S, January 2003

Powanda, M. & Beisel, W. R. (2002) Metabolic effects of infection on protein and energy metabolism. J. Nutr. 133:322S-327S

Nutritional supplementation: effects on child stunting because of diarrhea, CK Lutter, JO Mora, JP Habicht, KM Rasmussen, DS Robson, SG Sellers, CM Super and MG Herrera Food and Nutrition Board, National Research Council, Washington, DC. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 50, 1-8, Copyright © 1989

Early and late growth and blood pressure in adolescence, B L Horta1, F C Barros, C G Victora and T J Cole, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2003;57:226-230

Where and why are 10 million children dying every year - RE Black, SS Morris, J Bryce… - Lancet, 2003

Is malnutrition declining? An analysis of changes in levels of child malnutrition since 1980
Mercedes de Onis, Edward A. Frongillo, & Monika Blo¨ ssner. WHO

Worldwide Timing of Growth Faltering: Implications for Nutritional Interventions

Roger Shrimpton, Cesar G. Victora, Mercedes de Onis, Rosângela Costa Lima, Monika Blössner, and Graeme Clugston, 2001, Worldwide Timing of Growth Faltering: Implications for Nutritional Interventions, PEDIATRICS Vol. 107 No. 5 May 2001, p. e75.

An Analysis of Anemia and Pregnancy-Related Maternal Mortality, Bernard J. Brabin, Mohammad Hakimi and David Pelletier, (Journal of Nutrition. 2001;131:604S-615S.)

Epidemiologic evidence for a potentiating effect of malnutrition on child mortality, DL Pelletier, EA Frongillo Jr and JP Habicht, American Journal of Public Health, Vol 83, Issue 8 1130-1133, Copyright © 1993


Synergism of nutrition, infection, and immunity: an overview
, Nevin S Scrimshaw and Jean Paul SanGiovanni, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 66, 464S-477S, Copyright, 1997

Calorie restriction and aging: review of the literature and implications for studies in humans, Leonie K Heilbronn and Eric Ravussin, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 78, No. 3, 361-369, September 2003

Insights from the developing world: thrifty genotypes and thrifty phenotypes
. Andrew M Prentice, Pura Rayco-Solon, Sophie E Moore

Human Fertility Behavior in Biodemographic Perspective

Offspring: Human Fertility Behavior in Biodemographic Perspective, National Academies Press(2003)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Two Loose Links

Firstly to the online version of Julian Simon's "The Ultimate Resource II".

In particular to Chapter 22: Standing Room Only? The Demographic Facts

and to Chapter 24: Do Humans Breed Like Flies? Or Like Norwegian Rats?

The second link is to the publications page of José Antonio Ortega Osona. Again the most interesting him for the work I am currently doing is the PhD Thesis on Healthiness and the Economic Determinants of Mortality Fluctuations

Monday, April 24, 2006