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The continuation of the antebellum puzzle: stature in the US, 1847–1894

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  • ZEHETMAYER, MATTHIAS

Abstract

This article explores whether the antebellum decline in heights continued in the second half of the nineteenth century by using a data set of more than 58,000 US Army recruits born between 1847 and 1894. The main finding is that heights continued to decline during the Civil War by about 0.4 in. (1.0 cm) and stagnated for an extended period of time before they began to increase among the birth cohorts of the late 1880s. Recruits from the South remained the tallest despite the Civil War, while those from the Northeast were the shortest. Height was positively correlated with proximity to protein-rich nutrients during childhood and with geographic mobility, and was negatively correlated with urbanization and infant mortality rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Zehetmayer, Matthias, 2011. "The continuation of the antebellum puzzle: stature in the US, 1847–1894," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(02), pages 313-327, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:ereveh:v:15:y:2011:i:02:p:313-327_00
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    Cited by:

    1. Scott Carson, 2015. "A Weighty Issue: Diminished Net Nutrition Among the U.S. Working Class in the Nineteenth Century," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 52(3), pages 945-966, June.
    2. Scott A. Carson, 2017. "Assessing Cumulative Net Nutrition and the Transition from 19th Century Bound to Free-Labor by Ethnic Status," CESifo Working Paper Series 6813, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Scott A. Carson, 2018. "The 19th Centure Net Nutrition Transition from Free to Bound Labor: A Difference-in-Decompositions Approach," CESifo Working Paper Series 6932, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. de Beer, Hans, 2012. "Dairy products and physical stature: A systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled trials," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 299-309.
    5. Yoo, Dongwoo, 2012. "Height and death in the Antebellum United States: A view through the lens of geographically weighted regression," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 43-53.
    6. Dora L. Costa & Heather DeSomer & Eric Hanss & Christopher Roudiez & Sven E. Wilson & Noelle Yetter, 2017. "Union Army veterans, all grown up," Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(2), pages 79-95, April.
    7. Komlos, John, 2012. "A Three-Decade “Kuhnian” History of the Antebellum Puzzle: Explaining the shrinking of the US population at the onset of modern economic growth," Discussion Papers in Economics 12758, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    8. Jørkov, Marie Louise S., 2015. "Stature in 19th and early 20th century Copenhagen. A comparative study based on skeletal remains," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 13-26.
    9. Scott A. Carson, 2016. "Frederick Jackson Turner and the Westward Expanse: Changing Net Nutrition with Economic Development," CESifo Working Paper Series 5869, CESifo Group Munich.
    10. Julianne Treme & Lee A. Craig, 2013. "Urbanization, Health And Human Stature," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65, pages 130-141, May.
    11. John Komlos & Leonard Carlson, 2010. "The Anthropometric History of Native Americans, c. 1820-1890," Emory Economics 1006, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
    12. Sunder, Marco, 2013. "The height gap in 19th-century America: Net-nutritional advantage of the elite increased at the onset of modern economic growth," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 245-258.
    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. 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 Group Munich.
    15. Scott A. Carson, 2013. "Statures, BMIs, and Weight: A Reassessment," CESifo Working Paper Series 4540, CESifo Group Munich.
    16. Scott A. Carson, 2017. "Late 19th and Early 20th Century Native and Immigrant Body Mass Index Values," CESifo Working Paper Series 6771, CESifo Group Munich.

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