IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The diminution of the physical stature of the English male population in the eighteenth century


  • John Komlos

    () (Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA)

  • Helmut Küchenhoff

    (Department of Statistics, University of Munich, Ludwigstrasse 33/IV, 80539 Munich, Germany)


We re-estimate the height of Englishmen using the sample originally collected by Roderick Floud. We merge the samples from the army and the Royal Marines by weighting the observations in order to reflect the proportions of servicemen in the two branches of the military. In addition to truncated regression, we use cubic spline functions in order to estimate the trend in the physical stature of Englishmen. The results indicate that a very rapid decline in height of c. 1.6 cm per decade accompanied the onset of the industrial and demographic revolutions, implying that the nutritional status of the population deteriorated considerably as it throughout the European Continent.

Suggested Citation

  • John Komlos & Helmut Küchenhoff, 2012. "The diminution of the physical stature of the English male population in the eighteenth century," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 6(1), pages 45-62, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:afc:cliome:v:6:y:2012:i:1:p:45-62
    DOI: 10.1007/s11698-011-0070-7

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to journal subscribers

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. José Miguel Martínez-Carrión & Antonio D. Cámara, 2015. "Social Differentials in the Biological Standard of Living during the Decline of Industrialization in Andalusia: A District-level Analysis in Antequera," Documentos de Trabajo (DT-AEHE) 1508, Asociación Española de Historia Económica.
    2. Robert C. Allen, 2015. "The high wage economy and the industrial revolution: a restatement," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 68(1), pages 1-22, February.
    3. Brian A'Hearn & John Komlos, 2015. "The Decline in the Nutritional Status of the U.S. Antebellum Population at the Onset of Modern Economic Growth," CESifo Working Paper Series 5691, CESifo.
    4. Bodenhorn, Howard & Guinnane, Timothy & Mroz, Thomas, 2013. "Problems of Sample-selection Bias in the Historical Heights Literature: A Theoretical and Econometric Analysis," Center Discussion Papers 148749, Yale University, Economic Growth Center.
    5. Ayuda, María-Isabel & Puche-Gil, Javier, 2014. "Determinants of height and biological inequality in Mediterranean Spain, 1859–1967," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 15(C), pages 101-119.
    6. Brian A'Hearn & John Komlos, 2015. "The Decline in the Nutritional Status of the U.S. Antebellum Population at the Onset of Modern Economic Growth," CESifo Working Paper Series 5691, CESifo.
    7. Llorca-Jaña, Manuel & Clarke, Damian & Navarrete-Montalvo, Juan & Araya-Valenzuela, Roberto & Allende, Martina, 2020. "New anthropometric evidence on living standards in nineteenth-century Chile," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 36(C).
    8. Galofré-Vilà, Gregori, 2018. "Growth and maturity: A quantitative systematic review and network analysis in anthropometric history," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 107-118.
    9. Komlos, John & A’Hearn, Brian, 2017. "Hidden negative aspects of industrialization at the onset of modern economic growth in the U.S," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 43-52.
    10. Komlos, John, 2019. "Shrinking in a growing economy is not so puzzling after all," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 40-55.
    11. Arsenault Morin, Alex & Geloso, Vincent & Kufenko, Vadim, 2017. "The heights of French-Canadian convicts, 1780s–1820s," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 126-136.
    12. Antonio Fidalgo, 2018. "Testing for normality in truncated anthropometric samples," Working Papers 0142, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    13. José M. Martínez-Carrión & Pedro M. Pérez-Castroviejo & Javier Puche-Gil & Josep M. Ramon-Muñoz, 2014. "Living standards and rural-urban height gap during the early stages of modern economic growth in Spain," Documentos de Trabajo de la Sociedad Española de Historia Agraria 1410, Sociedad Española de Historia Agraria.
    14. Llorca-Jaña, Manuel & Navarrete-Montalvo, Juan & Droller, Federico & Araya-Valenzuela, Roberto, 2018. "Height in eighteenth-century Chilean men: Evidence from military records, 1730–1800s," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 168-178.

    More about this item


    Living Standards; Biological Standard of Living; Height; Physical Stature; England; Industrial Revolution; Welfare; Splines;

    JEL classification:

    • N00 - Economic History - - General - - - General
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:afc:cliome:v:6:y:2012:i:1:p:45-62. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.