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The biological standard of living in Europe during the last two millennia

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  • Köpke, Nikola
  • Baten, Jörg

Abstract

This paper offers the first anthropometric estimates on the biological standard of living in central Europe in the first millennium, and expands the literature on the second millenium. The overall picture is one of stagnant heights. There was not much progress in European nutritional status, not even between 1000 and 1800, when recent GDP per capita estimates arrive at growing figures. We find that heights stagnated during the Roman imperial period in Central, Western and Southern Europe. One astonishing result is the height increase in the fifth and sixth centuries. Noteworthy is the synchronicity of the height development in three large regions of Europe. In a regression analysis of height determinants, population density was clearly economically (but not statistically) significant. Decreasing marginal product theories and Malthusian thought cannot be denied for the pre-1800 period. Of marginal significance were climate (warmer temperatures were good for nutritional status), social inequality and gender inequality (both reduce average height). --

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Paper provided by University of Tübingen, School of Business and Economics in its series Tübinger Diskussionsbeiträge with number 265.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:tuedps:265

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Cited by:
  1. Morgan Kelly & Cormac Ó Gráda, 2012. "Agricultural Output, Calories and Living Standards in England before and during The Industrial Revolution," Working Papers, School Of Economics, University College Dublin 201212, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
  2. Birchenall, Javier A., 2007. "Economic Development and the Escape from High Mortality," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 543-568, April.
  3. Kris Inwood & Les Oxley & Evan Roberts, 2008. "Physical stature and its interpretation in nineteenth century New Zealand," Working Papers in Economics 08/22, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
  4. Özer, Basak Koca & SagIr, Mehmet & Özer, Ismail, 2011. "Secular changes in the height of the inhabitants of Anatolia (Turkey) from the 10th millennium B.C. to the 20th century A.D," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 211-219, March.
  5. Jörg Baten & Jan Luiten van Zanden, 2007. "Book production and the onset of modern economic growth," Economics Working Papers 1030, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  6. Strulik, Holger & Dalgaard, Carl-Johan, 2007. "Subsistence: A Bio-economic Foundation of the Malthusian Equilibrium," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Göttingen 2007 31, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
  7. Steckel, Richard H., 2009. "Heights and human welfare: Recent developments and new directions," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 1-23, January.
  8. Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Strulik, Holger, 2012. "Physiology and Development: Why the West is Taller than the Rest," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP), Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät dp-494, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  9. Stegl, Mojgan & Baten, Joerg, 2009. "Tall and shrinking Muslims, short and growing Europeans: The long-run welfare development of the Middle East, 1850-1980," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 132-148, January.
  10. Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Strulik, Holger, 2010. "The Physiological Foundations of the Wealth of Nations," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Hannover 2010 3, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
  11. Jörg Baten & Mikolaj Szoltysek, 2012. "The human capital of Central-Eastern and Eastern Europe in European perspective," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2012-002, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  12. Klein Goldewijk, Geertje & Jacobs, Jan, 2013. "The relation between stature and long bone length in the Roman Empire," Research Report EEF-13002, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
  13. Robert Allen & Robert C. Allen, 2007. "How Prosperous were the Romans? Evidence from Diocletian`s Price Edict (301 AD)," Economics Series Working Papers 363, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  14. Koepke, Nikola & Baten, Joerg, 2008. "Agricultural specialization and height in ancient and medieval Europe," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 127-146, April.
  15. Adolfo Meisel R. & Margarita Vega A., 2006. "Los orígenes de la antropometría histórica y su estado actual," CUADERNOS DE HISTORIA ECONÓMICA Y EMPRESARIAL 003175, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA - ECONOMÍA REGIONAL.
  16. Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Strulik, Holger, 2007. "A Bioeconomic Foundation of the Malthusian Equilibrium: Body Size and Population Size in the Long-Run," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP), Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät dp-373, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  17. Jörg Baten & Mojgan Stegl & Pierre Eng, 2013. "The biological standard of living and body height in colonial and post-colonial Indonesia, 1770–2000," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 103-122, July.
  18. Izdebski, Adam & Koloch, Grzegorz & Słoczyński, Tymon & Tycner-Wolicka, Marta, 2014. "On the Use of Palynological Data in Economic History: New Methods and an Application to Agricultural Output in Central Europe, 0–2000 AD," MPRA Paper 54582, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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