IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/ehbiol/v11y2013i3p245-258.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

The height gap in 19th-century America: Net-nutritional advantage of the elite increased at the onset of modern economic growth

Author

Listed:
  • Sunder, Marco

Abstract

We present evidence on the 19th-century trend in the height of male US passport applicants. These men represent a much wealthier segment of contemporary society than found in most stature samples previously analyzed. The height trend among the wealthy is much more robust in comparison to the average population that experienced a decline in stature. The resulting increase in the ‘height gap’—by roughly 1in. between cohorts born around 1820 and 1860—is in congruence with evidence on rising wealth inequality and the notion of dietary change in antebellum America.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:11:y:2013:i:3:p:245-258
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2013.02.001
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1570677X13000051
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1016/j.ehb.2013.02.001?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

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

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. R. Rees & John Komlos & Ngo V. Long & Ulrich Woitek, 2003. "Optimal food allocation in a slave economy," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 16(1), pages 21-36, February.
    2. Sunder, Marco, 2004. "The height of Tennessee convicts: another piece of the "antebellum puzzle"," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 75-86, March.
    3. Brabec, Marek, 2005. "Analysis of periodic fluctuations of the height of Swedish soldiers in 18th and 19th centuries," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 1-16, March.
    4. Steckel, Richard H. & Moehling, Carolyn M., 2001. "Rising Inequality: Trends In The Distribution Of Wealth In Industrializing New England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(1), pages 160-183, March.
    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. Steckel, Richard H., 1988. "The Health and Mortality of Women and Children, 1850–1860," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(2), pages 333-345, June.
    7. Clayne L. Pope, 1992. "Adult Mortality in America before 1900: A View from Family Histories," NBER Chapters, in: Strategic Factors in Nineteenth Century American Economic History: A Volume to Honor Robert W. Fogel, pages 267-296, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Lopez-Alonso, Moramay & Condey, Raul Porras, 2003. "The ups and downs of Mexican economic growth: the biological standard of living and inequality, 1870-1950," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 169-186, June.
    9. Roderick Floud & Robert W. Fogel & Bernard Harris & Sok Chul Hong, 2011. "The Changing Body: Health, Nutrition, and Human Development in the Western World since 1700," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number foge10-1, June.
    10. Woitek, Ulrich, 2003. "Height cycles in the 18th and 19th centuries," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 243-257, June.
    11. Samuel H. Preston & Michael R. Haines, 1991. "Fatal Years: Child Mortality in Late Nineteenth-Century America," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number pres91-1, June.
    12. John Komlos, 2003. "Access to Food and the Biological Standard of Living: Perspectives on the Nutritional Status of Native Americans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 252-255, March.
    13. John Murray, 2000. "Marital protection and marital selection: Evidence from a historical-prospective sample of American men," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 37(4), pages 511-521, November.
    14. Gil, Joan & Mora, Toni, 2011. "The determinants of misreporting weight and height: The role of social norms," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 78-91, January.
    15. Robert W. Fogel, 1986. "Nutrition and the Decline in Mortality since 1700: Some Preliminary Findings," NBER Chapters, in: Long-Term Factors in American Economic Growth, pages 439-556, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Brandon Dupont & Alka Gandhi & Thomas Weiss, 2012. "The long‐term rise in overseas travel by Americans, 1820–2000," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 65(1), pages 144-167, February.
    17. Lee, Chulhee, 1997. "Socioeconomic Background, Disease, and Mortality among Union Army Recruits: Implications for Economic and Demographic History," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 27-55, January.
    18. Komlos, John, 1987. "The Height and Weight of West Point Cadets: Dietary Change in Antebellum America," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(4), pages 897-927, December.
    19. Carson, Scott Alan, 2008. "The Effect of Geography and Vitamin D on African American Stature in the Nineteenth Century: Evidence from Prison Records," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(3), pages 812-831, September.
    20. Osmani, Siddiq & Sen, Amartya, 2003. "The hidden penalties of gender inequality: fetal origins of ill-health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 105-121, January.
    21. Jason Long & Joseph Ferrie, 2005. "A Tale of Two Labor Markets: Intergenerational Occupational Mobility in Britain and the U.S. Since 1850," NBER Working Papers 11253, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. 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.
    23. Komlos, John, 1996. "Anomalies in Economic History: Toward a Resolution of the “Antebellum Puzzle”," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(01), pages 202-214, March.
    24. Sunder, Marco & Woitek, Ulrich, 2005. "Boom, bust, and the human body: Further evidence on the relationship between height and business cycles," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 450-466, December.
    25. Lang, Stefan & Sunder, Marco, 2003. "Non-parametric regression with BayesX: a flexible estimation of trends in human physical stature in 19th century America," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 77-89, January.
    26. Haines, Michael R. & Craig, Lee A. & Weiss, Thomas, 2011. "Did African Americans experience the [`]Antebellum Puzzle'? Evidence from the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 45-55, January.
    27. 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(2), pages 313-327, August.
    28. Murray, John E., 1997. "Standards of the Present for People of the Past: Height, Weight, and Mortality among Men of Amherst College, 1834–1949," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(3), pages 585-606, September.
    29. Weiss, Thomas, 2004. "Tourism in America before World War II," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 64(2), pages 289-327, June.
    30. Komlos, John, 1998. "Shrinking in a Growing Economy? The Mystery of Physical Stature during the Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 779-802, September.
    31. Richard H. Steckel, 2008. "Biological Measures of the Standard of Living," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(1), pages 129-152, Winter.
    32. Michael R. Haines & Richard H. Steckel, 2000. "Childhood Mortality & Nutritional Status as Indicators of Standard of Living: Evidence from World War I Recruits in the United States," NBER Historical Working Papers 0121, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    33. Sunder, Marco, 2011. "Upward and onward: High-society American women eluded the antebellum puzzle," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 165-171, March.
    34. Logan, Trevon D., 2006. "Food, nutrition, and substitution in the late nineteenth century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 527-545, July.
    35. Robert W. Fogel, 1986. "Nutrition and the Decline in Mortality Since 1700: Some Additional Preliminary Findings," NBER Working Papers 1802, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    36. Richard H. Steckel, 1995. "Stature and the Standard of Living," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1903-1940, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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


    Cited by:

    1. Koepke, Nikola & Floris, Joël & Pfister, Christian & Rühli, Frank J. & Staub, Kaspar, 2018. "Ladies first: Female and male adult height in Switzerland, 1770–1930," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 76-87.
    2. 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.
    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. Komlos, John, 2019. "Shrinking in a growing economy is not so puzzling after all," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 40-55.
    5. Carolin Schmidt, 2018. "Home is where the health is: Housing and adult height from the late 19th to the mid-20th centuries," ERES eres2018_33, European Real Estate Society (ERES).

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. 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.
    2. Steckel, Richard H., 2009. "Heights and human welfare: Recent developments and new directions," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 1-23, January.
    3. Sunder, Marco, 2011. "Upward and onward: High-society American women eluded the antebellum puzzle," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 165-171, March.
    4. Komlos, John, 2019. "Shrinking in a growing economy is not so puzzling after all," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 40-55.
    5. 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.
    6. Maloney, Thomas N. & Carson, Scott Alan, 2008. "Living standards in Black and White: Evidence from the heights of Ohio Prison inmates, 1829-1913," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 237-251, July.
    7. 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.
    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, 2008. "Demographic, Residential, and Socioeconomic Effects on the Distribution of 19th Century African-American Stature," CESifo Working Paper Series 2479, CESifo.
    10. John Komlos & Leonard Carlson, 2014. "The anthropometric history of Native Americans, C.1820–1890," Research in Economic History, in: Christopher Hanes & Susan Wolcott (ed.), Research in economic history, volume 30, pages 135-161, Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    11. Carson, Scott Alan, 2009. "Geography, insolation, and vitamin D in nineteenth century US African-American and white statures," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 149-159, January.
    12. Bodenhorn, Howard & Guinnane, Timothy W. & Mroz, Thomas A., 2017. "Sample-Selection Biases and the Industrialization Puzzle," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 171-207, March.
    13. Schoch, Tobias & Staub, Kaspar & Pfister, Christian, 2012. "Social inequality and the biological standard of living: An anthropometric analysis of Swiss conscription data, 1875–1950," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 154-173.
    14. 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.
    15. Sunder, Marco, 2004. "The height of Tennessee convicts: another piece of the "antebellum puzzle"," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 75-86, March.
    16. Hiermeyer, Martin, 2010. "The height and BMI values of West Point cadets after the Civil War," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 127-133, March.
    17. Laura Alfaro & Areendam Chanda & Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan & Selin Sayek, 2006. "How Does Foreign Direct Investment Promote Economic Growth? Exploring the Effects of Financial Markets on Linkages," NBER Working Papers 12522, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Godoy, Ricardo A. & Goodman, Elizabeth & Levins, Richard & Caram, Mariana & Seyfried, Craig, 2007. "Adult male height in an American colony: Puerto Rico and the USA mainland compared, 1886-1955," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 82-99, March.
    19. Scott A. Carson, 2008. "Geography and Insolation in 19th Century US African-American and White Statures," CESifo Working Paper Series 2229, CESifo.
    20. Scott Alan Carson, 2020. "Net nutrition, insolation, mortality, and the antebellum paradox," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 77-98, July.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Anthropometric history; Biological standard of living; Height; Inequality; Antebellum puzzle; Passports;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:eee:ehbiol:v:11:y:2013:i:3:p:245-258. 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: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622964 .

    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.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with 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.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622964 .

    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.