In celebration of the fact that my PhD advisor, Angus Deaton, has just won the Nobel prize in Economics, I thought I would share one of my favorite of his (many) graphs. The internet is filling up with tributes in various forms – but we thought he might prefer some compelling descriptive statistics.
This graph is figure 2 from his article, “Height, health, and development,” published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2007. It shows that a country’s economic performance, as measured by GDP per capita, is a poor predictor of women’s heights in developing countries and regions around the world. This is an important finding because women’s heights are a marker of their health in early life, which also shapes their cognitive abilities, and many other factors that influence well-being over the life course.
One particularly striking thing about this graph is that women in South Asia are among the shortest in the world. Understanding why people in South Asia, and particularly in India, are so short, and what might be done about it, has been a big part of what keeps the r.i.c.e. team busy. We have Angus to thank for putting us on to these questions and for giving us so much to think about over the years. Congratulations, Angus!
Also, if you haven’t read his book, The Great Escape: Health, wealth, and the origins of inequality, here is a link to where you can download three of the chapters, and see options for getting a print copy or an e-book.