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Height of female Americans in the 19th century and the antebellum puzzle

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  • Carson, Scott Alan

Abstract

Using 19th century state prison records, this study contrasts the biological standard of living of comparable US African-American and white females during a period of relatively rapid economic development. White females were consistently taller than black females by about 1.5Â cm (0.6Â in.). Whites from Great Lakes and Plains states and black Southwestern females were the tallest. US females were tall compared to their European counterparts. The height of females began to decline in the antebellum period, possibly before that of males. The recovery of physical stature was also earlier among females than among males. This implies that the biological standard of lower-class men and women did not move in parallel during the onset of modern economic growth. It also implies that the antebellum puzzle was most likely rooted in the endogenous forces of socio-economic change rather than the exogenous changes in the disease environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Carson, Scott Alan, 2011. "Height of female Americans in the 19th century and the antebellum puzzle," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 157-164, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:9:y:2011:i:2:p:157-164
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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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. Staub, Kaspar & Rühli, Frank J. & Bogin, Barry & Woitek, Ulrich & Pfister, Christian, 2011. "Edouard Mallet's early and almost forgotten study of the average height of Genevan conscripts in 1835," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 438-442.
    3. Dobado-González, Rafael & Garcia-Hiernaux, Alfredo, 2017. "Two worlds apart: Determinants of height in late 18th century central Mexico," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 153-163.
    4. 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.
    5. Scott A. Carson, 2013. "Black and White Body Mass Index Values in Developing 19th Century Nebraska," CESifo Working Paper Series 4268, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. repec:eee:streco:v:41:y:2017:i:c:p:43-52 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. 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.
    10. Schneider, Eric B., 2017. "Fetal health stagnation: Have health conditions in utero improved in the United States and Western and Northern Europe over the past 150 years?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 18-26.
    11. Green, Tiffany L. & Hamilton, Tod G., 2013. "Beyond black and white: Color and mortality in post-reconstruction era North Carolina," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 148-159.
    12. repec:eee:phsmap:v:501:y:2018:i:c:p:86-97 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:26:y:2017:i:c:p:137-143 is not listed on IDEAS

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