Stature and economic development in South China, 1810-1880
Foreign influence on South China increasingly disrupted the economy from the late eighteenth century. Many scholars believe the standard of living fell, while others point to positive gains from increased integration with the world economy. The paper estimates the secular trend in the average height of the southern Chinese in the nineteenth century based on data from prison registers in colonial Australia. Contrary to the pessimist view, height began to decline obviously only from the 1850s, a product of the dislocation effects of revolts and rebellions. At 163-164cm, the Chinese were of similar stature to the military conscripts of some European countries in the early-to-mid nineteenth century.
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