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Food Rationing and the Black Market in France (1940-1944)

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Abstract

French food rationing was more stringent than that of any other Occupied country in Western Europe in the Second World War, and the nation's resulting aversion to a regime that controlled rations and prices would increase the difficulties of post-war governments. This article investigates the role of French state management in wartime food shortages, assessing the parts played by French policy and German interference in the food shortages, the diversion of supplies to the black market and the inequities in distribution. It finds the French rationing administration to have been poorly organized, but attributes significant responsibility to the German Occupation authorities, whose interference increased the rationing system's dysfunction. French consumers blamed the French state for the problems and relied increasingly on alternate means to supplement inadequate rations. The result was a rationing system that delivered malnourishment, social division and hostility to state management of the food supply.

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... In each of them, food was rationed throughout the war. The average daily ration in France in 1941-1944 was limited to 1180 kcal (Mouré, 2010). This is considerably less than the recommended amount for nonpregnant women of 2,000 kcal. ...
... Furthermore, the quality of nutrition decreased as several types of food such as meat, dairy, fat, eggs and bread became rationed (see Egle, 1943). Malnutrition in France led to anemia, vitamin deficiencies and diseases (Mouré, 2010). Prenatal exposure to poor nutrition can hamper fetal growth and may lead to damage to fetal organs. ...
... In each of the three countries, food was rationed throughout the war. The average daily ration in France in 1941-1944 was limited to 1180 kcal ( Mouré, 2010). This is considerably less than the recommended 2,000 kcal for non-pregnant women of. ...
... Furthermore, the quality and variety of nutrition decreased as several types of food such as meat, dairy, fat, eggs and bread became rationed (see Egle, 1943). Malnutrition in France led to anemia, vitamin deficiencies and diseases ( Mouré, 2010). Prenatal exposure to poor nutrition can hamper fetal growth and may lead to damage to fetal organs. ...
... League of Nations statistics give the average daily ration for adult males in 1943 as 1,555 kcal in Belgium, 1,115 in France, 1,065 in Italy and 1,580 in The Netherlands (Daniele & Ghezzi, 2017). People may of course have been able to acquire food outside of the rationing system (Mouré, 2010), so these numbers should not be treated as exact dietary intakes, but they do indicate a clearly sub optimal situation. No strict food rationing was present in Denmark, though serious deficiencies may have existed in specific groups or areas (League of Nations, 1945). ...
... Malnutrition in France led to anemia, vitamin deficiencies and diseases (Mouré, 2010). Prenatal exposure to poor nutrition may hamper fetal growth and damage fetal organs. ...
Article
Full-text available
Many previous studies have shown that prenatal exposure to adverse historical circumstances negatively affects long-run health. Most women who are pregnant during wars experience clearly adverse circumstances that are however not as harsh as the typically studied extreme episodes such as famines, combat and wide-scale destruction. We show that prenatal exposure to World War II (WWII) in five Western European countries did not lead to a population-wide poorer health among the elderly. We even find indications of a better than expected health. This is likely due to selective fertility and mortality. We attempt to quantify these selection effects and show that when taking them into account, the initially positively estimated health effects on almost all outcomes are substantially attenuated. Selective mortality and fertility likely occur in similar directions for many historical episodes of adversity. Our results therefore suggest that a part of the previous research on such exposures likely under estimated the true sizes of the long-run effects.
... They took control of the food production in terms of the product and quantity (Tseng, 2018;Charon-Cardonda and Marwick, 2019). Food rationing and price control became a common reaction to manage shortages, seeking to avoid injustice by creating conscioussness around food consumption (Mouré, 2010;Blum, 2013;Flessig and Whitney, 2015;Chadwick, 2017;Tseng, 2018). Other prioritized the food supply for the troops rather than for the civilians (Yang, 2005;Tseng, 2018;Charon-Cardona and Marwick, 2019) and some limited the exportation of certain ingredients that worked as food substitutes for the civil population (Vorstenboch et al., 2017). ...
... German troops occupied three-fifths of the French territory, northern France and the Atlantic coast, leaving the south and eastern two-fifths under Vichy's control. The northern departments of the Nord and Pas-de-Calais had direct military control from Brussels, Alsace and Lorraine were reincorporated into the Reich, a forbidden zone was established in north-eastern France, and an Italian zone was created in south-eastern France in November 1942 (Mouré, 2010). ...
Thesis
In this dissertation, I examine the effects of major life events and exposure to adverse environmental conditions on health and health-related outcomes. The objective of this work is to establish causal relationships using quasi-experimental methods and mobilising different sources of micro-level data from France. Each of the four chapters that compose this dissertation is a stand-alone, independent piece of research that addresses distinct policy-relevant issues. In the first two chapters, I consider the impact of retirement and the dissolution of a romantic partnership, respectively, on income and diet and discuss the potential health effects of these changes. In the third chapter, I investigate the consequences of exposure to adverse conditions related to World War II during childhood and adolescence on health outcomes in adulthood. In the fourth chapter, I examine the short-term effects of exposure to ambient air pollution on health care use and costs.
... German troops occupied three-fifths of the French territory, northern France and the Atlantic coast, leaving the south and eastern two-fifths under Vichy's control. The northern departments of the Nord and Pas-de-Calais had direct military control from Brussels, Alsace and Lorraine were reincorporated into the Reich, a forbidden zone was established in north-eastern France, and an Italian zone was created in south-eastern France in November 1942 (Mouré, 2010). ...
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... The literature on poor nutrition during pregnancy is relevant to World War 2, since in all occupied countries food was rationed. For example, the average daily rations amounted to 1180 calories for France, 1400 for Belgium and 1800 for The Netherlands (Mouré, 2010). This is around half of the recommended number of calories per day for pregnant women. ...
Article
Full-text available
There is increasing evidence that circumstances very early in our lives, and particularly during pregnancy, can affect our health for the remainder of life. Studies that have looked at this relationship have often used extreme situations, such as famines that occurred during wartime. Here we investigate whether less extreme situations during World War II also affected later-life mortality for cohorts born in Belgium, France, The Netherlands, and Norway. We argue that these occupied countries experienced a considerable deterioration in daily life situations and show that this resulted in strongly increased mortality rates and lower probabilities of survival until age 55 among civilian populations who had been prenatally exposed to wartime circumstances. However, this mortality effect among the prenatally exposed is entirely concentrated in the first years of life, particularly infanthood. Once we condition on having survived the first years of life, those who had been prenatally exposed do not have higher mortality rates. This suggests that "culling" is important and that effects found in earlier studies may have been biased downward substantially.
... Only consumers with sufficient wealth or with connections to food-producing relatives or friends in the countryside could meet their nutritional needs through purchases on the black market or reception of care packages. Economic recovery required years and the last wartime controls were not lifted until 1949 21 . ...
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