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

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  • 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.

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  • 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
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:streco:v:41:y:2017:i:c:p:43-52 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Anthropometric history; Biological standard of living; Height; Inequality; Antebellum puzzle; Passports;

    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

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