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Long run trends in the heights of European men, 19th-20th centuries

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  • Hatton, Timothy J.
  • Bray, Bernice E.

Abstract

This paper presents 5-yearly data on the height of young adult men in 15 Western European countries for birth cohorts from the middle of the 19th to the end of the 20th century. The results indicate that from the 1870s to the 1970s average height increased by around 11Â cm, or more than 1Â cm per decade. The main finding is that for the northern and middle European groups of countries the gains in height were most rapid in the period 1911-15 to 1951-55, a period that embraced two World Wars and the Great Depression but also witnessed advances in public health and hygiene. For the southern countries growth was fastest in the period 1951-55 to 1976-80. These findings suggest that advances in height were determined not only by income and living standards but also by a variety of other socioeconomic trends.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics & Human Biology.

Volume (Year): 8 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (December)
Pages: 405-413

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:8:y:2010:i:3:p:405-413

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622964

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Keywords: Height Europe 20th century;

References

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  1. John Komlos & Benjamin E. Lauderdale, 2007. "Underperformance in Affluence: The Remarkable Relative Decline in U.S. Heights in the Second Half of the 20th Century," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 88(2), pages 283-305.
  2. Lars Sandberg & Richard H. Steckel, 1997. "Was Industrialization Hazardous to Your Health? Not in Sweden!," NBER Chapters, in: Health and Welfare during Industrialization, pages 127-160 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Steckel, Richard H., 2009. "Heights and human welfare: Recent developments and new directions," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 1-23, January.
  4. Nicolas Herpin, 2003. "La taille des hommes : son incidence sur la vie en couple et la carrière professionnelle," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 361(1), pages 71-90.
  5. John Komlos, 2007. "Anthropometric evidence on economic growth, biological well-being and regional convergence in the Habsburg Monarchy, c. 1850–1910," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 1(3), pages 211-237, October.
  6. 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.
  7. Easterlin, Richard A., 1999. "How beneficent is the market? A look at the modern history of mortality," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(03), pages 257-294, December.
  8. Hiermeyer, Martin, 2009. "Height and BMI values of German conscripts in 2000, 2001 and 1906," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 366-375, December.
  9. Carlos Bozzoli & Angus Deaton & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2009. "Adult height and childhood disease," Demography, Springer, vol. 46(4), pages 647-669, November.
  10. Mokyr, Joel, 2000. "Why “More Work for Mother?” Knowledge and Household Behavior, 1870–1945," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(01), pages 1-41, March.
  11. Weir, David R., 1993. "Parental Consumption Decisions and Child Health During the Early French Fertility Decline, 1790–1914," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 53(02), pages 259-274, June.
  12. J. W. Drukker & Vincent Tassenaar, 1997. "Paradoxes of Modernization and Material Well-Being in the Netherlands during the Nineteenth Century," NBER Chapters, in: Health and Welfare during Industrialization, pages 331-378 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Komlos, John & Kriwy, Peter, 2003. "The Biological Standard of Living in the two Germanies," Discussion Papers in Economics 55, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  14. Garcia, Jaume & Quintana-Domeque, Climent, 2007. "The evolution of adult height in Europe: A brief note," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 340-349, July.
  15. Cage, R A & Foster, John, 2002. "Overcrowding and Infant Mortality: A Tale of Two Cities," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 49(2), pages 129-49, May.
  16. Richard H. Steckel, 1995. "Stature and the Standard of Living," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1903-1940, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Guven, Cahit & Lee, Wang-Sheng, 2011. "Height and Cognitive Function among Older Europeans: Do People from "Tall" Countries Have Superior Cognitive Abilities?," IZA Discussion Papers 6210, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Spijker, Jeroen J.A. & Cámara, Antonio D. & Blanes, Amand, 2012. "The health transition and biological living standards: Adult height and mortality in 20th-century Spain," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 276-288.
  3. Bielecki, Emily M. & Haas, Jere D. & Hulanicka, Barbara, 2012. "Secular changes in the height of Polish schoolboys from 1955 to 1988," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 310-317.
  4. Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Strulik, Holger, 2012. "Physiology and Development: Why the West is Taller than the Rest," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-494, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  5. Andrea Brandolini & Giovanni Vecchi, 2011. "The Well-Being of Italians: A Comparative Historical Approach," Quaderni di storia economica (Economic History Working Papers) 19, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.

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