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Agricultural specialization and height in ancient and medieval Europe

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  • Koepke, Nikola
  • Baten, Joerg

Abstract

Land per capita was one important determinant of height in the Malthusian world 0 to 1800 A.D. A second factor was specialization in milk cattle agriculture. It had two positive effects on human stature: first, proximity to protein production resulted in a very low local shadow price of milk, as this important foodstuff could not be transported easily. Second, this low price resulted in a low inequality of nutritional status, whereas, for example, tradable pork contributed to nutritional inequality. For this study, we used a data set of more than two million animal bones to measure specialization in cattle and its impact on stature.

Suggested Citation

  • Koepke, Nikola & Baten, Joerg, 2008. "Agricultural specialization and height in ancient and medieval Europe," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 127-146, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:45:y:2008:i:2:p:127-146
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. John Komlos, 1989. "Nutrition and Economic Development in the Eighteenth-Century Habsburg Monarchy: An Anthropometric History," Books by John Komlos, Department of Economics, University of Munich, number 2.
    2. Robert C. Allen, 2003. "Progress and poverty in early modern Europe," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 56(3), pages 403-443, August.
    3. Komlos, John, 2003. "An anthropometric history of early-modern France," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(02), pages 159-189, August.
    4. Koepke, Nikola & Baten, Joerg, 2005. "The biological standard of living in Europe during the last two millennia," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(01), pages 61-95, April.
    5. Baten, Jörg & Komlos, John, 1998. "Height and the Standard of Living," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 866-870, September.
    6. Baten, Jorg & Murray, John E., 2000. "Heights of Men and Women in 19th-Century Bavaria: Economic, Nutritional, and Disease Influences," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 351-369, October.
    7. Richard H. Steckel, 1995. "Stature and the Standard of Living," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1903-1940, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marcus Groß, 2016. "Modeling body height in prehistory using a spatio-temporal Bayesian errors-in variables model," AStA Advances in Statistical Analysis, Springer;German Statistical Society, vol. 100(3), pages 289-311, July.
    2. Izdebski, Adam & Koloch, Grzegorz & Słoczyński, Tymon & Tycner, Marta, 2016. "On the use of palynological data in economic history: New methods and an application to agricultural output in Central Europe, 0–2000AD," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 17-39.
    3. 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.
    4. Andrey Shcherbak, 2016. "A Recipe for Democracy? The Spread of the European Diet And Political Change," HSE Working papers WP BRP 70/SOC/2016, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    5. Jörg Baten & Mojgan Stegl & Pierre Eng, 2013. "The biological standard of living and body height in colonial and post-colonial Indonesia, 1770–2000," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 103-122, July.
    6. Andersen, Thomas Barnebeck & Jensen, Peter Sandholt & Skovsgaard, Christian Stejner, 2013. "The heavy plough and the agricultural revolution in medieval Europe," Discussion Papers of Business and Economics 6/2013, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Business and Economics.
    7. Stegl, Mojgan & Baten, Joerg, 2009. "Tall and shrinking Muslims, short and growing Europeans: The long-run welfare development of the Middle East, 1850-1980," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 132-148, January.
    8. Özer, Basak Koca & SagIr, Mehmet & Özer, Ismail, 2011. "Secular changes in the height of the inhabitants of Anatolia (Turkey) from the 10th millennium B.C. to the 20th century A.D," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 211-219, March.
    9. Andersen, Thomas Barnebeck & Jensen, Peter Sandholt & Skovsgaard, Christian Volmar, 2016. "The heavy plow and the agricultural revolution in Medieval Europe," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 133-149.
    10. Baten, Joerg, 2009. "Protein supply and nutritional status in nineteenth century Bavaria, Prussia and France," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 165-180, July.

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