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Anthropometric Evidence on Living Standards in Northern Italy, 1730 1860

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  • A'HEARN, BRIAN
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    Abstract

    New estimates of mean stature indicate declining heights in Northern Italy from 1730 to 1860, corroborating recent findings of a deterioration in per capita GDP and real wages though possibly calling into question its severity. The level of heights in the 1830s is respectable in international comparison. Estimated geographic and occupational effects show the influence of the disease environment, malnutrition, and income. Declining living standards suggest a Malthusian interpretation of the economy, in which even a relatively flexible agricultural sector was not quite able to keep up with the growing pressure of population on resources.John Komlos arranged the collection of the data analyzed here and made them available to me. I am also indebted to him for ongoing discussions about anthropometrics and helpful comments on this article. I am grateful to J rg Baten, Giovanni Federico, Paolo Malanima, Gianni Toniolo, and Vincent Tassenaar for reading and commenting on the article, and to three anonymous referees for their com-ments. An earlier version of the article was presented at the Seminar for Economic History, University of Munich.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal The Journal of Economic History.

    Volume (Year): 63 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 02 (June)
    Pages: 351-381

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    Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:63:y:2003:i:02:p:351-381_00

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    Cited by:
    1. Dobado González, Rafael & García Montero, Héctor, 2010. "Colonial Origins of Inequality in Hispanic America? Some Reflections Based on New Empirical Evidence," Revista de Historia Económica, Cambridge University Press, vol. 28(02), pages 253-277, September.
    2. Franco Peracchi, 2008. "Height and Economic Development in Italy, 1730–1980," CEIS Research Paper 108, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 10 Jul 2008.
    3. Komlos, John & Baten, Jörg, 2003. "Looking Backward and Looking Forward: Anthropometric Research and the Development of Social Science History," Discussion Papers in Economics 59, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    4. Robert Allen, 2013. "The High wage Economy and the Industrial Revolution: A Restatement," Economics Series Working Papers Number 115, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    5. Richard H. Steckel, 2008. "Heights and Human Welfare: Recent Developments and New Directions," NBER Working Papers 14536, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Joerg Baten & Debin Ma & Stephen Morgan & Qing Wang, 2009. "Evolution of living standards and human capital in China in 18-20th century: evidences from real wage and anthropometrics," Economic History Working Papers 27870, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    7. Komlos, John & Cinnirella, Francesco, 2005. "European Heights in the Early 18th Century," Discussion Papers in Economics 572, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    8. Arcaleni, Emilia, 2006. "Secular trend and regional differences in the stature of Italians, 1854-1980," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 24-38, January.
    9. Hassink, Wolter & van Leeuwen, Bas, 2013. "A Note on Height and Surnames: The Role of Networks," IZA Discussion Papers 7433, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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