Height and living standards in North Korea, 1930s–1980s



The adult stature of 6,512 North Korean refugees born from the 1930s to the 1980s was employed as an indicator of living standards in North Korea. The height of North Koreans born before the division of the Korean Peninsula exceeded that of their South Korean peers. All North Korean cohorts born thereafter were shorter than their South Korean counterparts. North Koreans did not experience a meaningful secular increase in height during 60 years of communism. A consistent and positive effect of about 1–2 cm for high educational status was found when height was regressed on birth decades, education, regional origin, and occupation.