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Southeastern institutional change and biological variation: evidence from the 19th century Tennessee State Prison




The use of height data to measure living standards is now a well-established method in economics, and a number of core findings in the literature are widely agreed upon. There are still some populations, places, and times, however, for which anthropometric evidence remains thin. This paper introduces a new dataset from the Tennessee State Prison to track the heights of comparable black and white males born between 1820 and 1906. Shorter statures were associated with close proximity to the Mississippi River, and the largest share of the white–black stature gap was associated with nativity. Black and white statures declined throughout the 19th century, and farmers were taller than non-farmers.

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  • Carson, Scott Alan, 2011. "Southeastern institutional change and biological variation: evidence from the 19th century Tennessee State Prison," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(03), pages 455-471, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jinsec:v:7:y:2011:i:03:p:455-471_00

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    Cited by:

    1. Scott A. Carson, 2015. "Nineteenth Century Weight in the United States: Revaluating Net Nutrition during Economic Development," CESifo Working Paper Series 5499, CESifo Group Munich.

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