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Measuring living standards from the lowest: Height of the male Hangryu deceased in colonial Korea


  • Kim, Duol
  • Park, Heejin


The living standards in Korea during the colonial period (1910–1945) have been debated for a long time. We explored this problem using the height of the Hangryu deceased, a dead person who did not have any acquaintances to claim the body. We found that the height of male Hangryu deceased, ages 25 to 30, increased by 2.2 cm during the colonial period. This result is consistent with recent quantitative studies measuring income levels or demographic information. However, questions such as when this growth in height started and what initiated this pattern need further investigation.

Suggested Citation

  • Kim, Duol & Park, Heejin, 2011. "Measuring living standards from the lowest: Height of the male Hangryu deceased in colonial Korea," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 590-599.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:48:y:2011:i:4:p:590-599 DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2011.08.001

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Aigner, Dennis J., 1973. "Regression with a binary independent variable subject to errors of observation," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 49-59, March.
    2. Choi, Seong-Jin & Schwekendiek, Daniel, 2009. "The biological standard of living in colonial Korea, 1910-1945," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 259-264, July.
    3. Kimura, Mitsuhiko, 1993. "Standards of Living in Colonial Korea: Did the Masses Become Worse Off or Better Off Under Japanese Rule?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 53(03), pages 629-652, September.
    4. Olds, Kelly B., 2003. "The biological standard of living in Taiwan under Japanese occupation," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 187-206, June.
    5. Myung Soo Cha, 2004. "Facts and myths about Korea's economic past," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 44(3), pages 278-293, November.
    6. 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.
    7. Lee, Lung-Fei & Porter, Robert H, 1984. "Switching Regression Models with Imperfect Sample Separation Information-With an Application on Cartel Stability," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 391-418, March.
    8. 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. Jun, Seong Ho & Lewis, James B. & Schwekendiek, Daniel, 2017. "The biological standard of living in pre-modern Korea: Determinants of height of militia recruits during the Chosŏn dynasty," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 104-110.
    2. Kitae Sohn, 2015. "A World Record in the Improvement in Biological Standards of Living in Korea: Evidence from Age at Menarche," CEH Discussion Papers 037, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.

    More about this item


    The Hangryu deceased; Colonial Korea; Biological living standard; Height;

    JEL classification:

    • N35 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Asia including Middle East
    • N01 - Economic History - - General - - - Development of the Discipline: Historiographical; Sources and Methods
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East
    • I00 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General - - - General


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