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Father’s Employment and Sons’ Stature: The Long Running Effects of a Positive Regional Employment Shock in South Africa’s Mining Industry

I exploit the unexpected increase in employment in 1975, 76 and 77 in the South African homelands to compare the long term adult outcomes of children whose fathers benefitted from the employment increase to those who did not. Using a standard difference in difference approach I find that the shock affected males who were either newborn or in utero at the time, providing support to the fetal origins hypothesis and showing the importance of mother’s nutrition. The income increases did not raise household incomes above the poverty datum line, explaining why older individuals were not affected. This study provides previously unmeasured individual level information on the quality of life in the homelands during apartheid, an era when African living standards were neglected but unmeasured because of a lack of data collection.

Working paper 477
1 November 2014
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