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Health, Height, and Welfare: Britain, 1700-1980

In: Health and Welfare during Industrialization

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  • Roderick Floud
  • Bernard Harris

Abstract

This paper reviews the evidence regarding the main trends in the height of the British population since the early eighteenth century. We argue that the average heights of successive birth cohorts of British males increased slowly between the middle of the eighteenth century and the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Average heights fell during the second quarter of the nineteenth century, before rising from the 1850s onwards. This analysis is supported by an examination of the main trends in children's heights during the twentieth century. Our findings are compared with the results of an alternative method of measuring human welfare - a modified version of the United Nations' Human Development Index. The main trends in human development reinforce the conclusions drawn from our own interpretation of the anthropometric evidence.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Richard H. Steckel & Roderick Floud, 1997. "Health and Welfare during Industrialization," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number stec97-1, May.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 7429.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:7429

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    References

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    1. John Komlos, 1993. "A Malthusian episode revisited: the height of British and Irish servants in colonial America," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 46(4), pages 768-782, November.
    2. F. W. Botham & E. H. Hunt, 1987. "Wages in Britain during the industrial revolution," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 40(3), pages 380-399, 08.
    3. Woods, Robert, 1985. "The Effects of Population Redistribution on the Level of Mortality in Nineteenth-Century England and Wales," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 45(03), pages 645-651, September.
    4. John Komlos & Joo Han Kim, . "Estimating Trends in Historical Heights," Articles by John Komlos 25, Department of Economics, University of Munich.
    5. John Komlos, . "The Secular Trend in the Biological Standard of Living in the United Kingdom, 1730-1860," Articles by John Komlos 19, Department of Economics, University of Munich.
    6. Floud, Roderick, 1984. "Measuring the Transformation of the European Economies: Income, Health and Welfare," CEPR Discussion Papers 33, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    Cited by:
    1. Leandro Prados de la Escosura, 2013. "World Human Development: 1870-2007," Working Papers 0034, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    2. Nicholas Crafts, 1999. "Quantitative economic history," Economic History Working Papers 22390, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    3. Nicholas Crafts, 1997. "Some Dimensions of the Quality of Life during the British Industrial Revolution," CEP Discussion Papers dp0339, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    4. Roderick Floud, 1998. "Height, Weight, and Body Mass of the British Population Since 1820," NBER Historical Working Papers 0108, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Nicholas Crafts, 2000. "Development history," Economic History Working Papers 22384, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.

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