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Anthropometric history of the Iberian world. Lessons we have learned

Author

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  • José Miguel Martínez-Carrión

    () (Departamento de Economía Aplicada. Facultad de Economía y Empresa, Universidad de Murcia)

Abstract

Recent research of anthropometric history within the Iberian world shed new light on trends in nutritional status, health, living standards, and biological welfare since ancient times. It has been shown that nutrition was not worse during the middle Ages than at the beginning of modern times, and that the height of the Portuguese and Spaniards did not differ much from that enjoyed by other Europeans in the Age of Enlightenment. At the beginning of industrialization height deteriorated in both countries, earlier in Spain than in Portugal, between 1840 and 1900 recruitments. Since then, human growth has been spectacular. Spaniards height grew 13 cm between 1880 and 1980 cohorts while Portuguese height increased 9 cm during the same period, the latter being somewhat higher in 1880. The advance of biological welfare in Spain is more meaningful, knowing the height decline occurred in the generations born by 1920s -recruits who lived the Civil War and its aftermath. The explosion of human growth in the twentieth century, especially after World War II, is explained by the importance of environmental changes such as improved income and diet, the unstoppable advance of life expectancy, the mortality decline during childhood, the family care for children, as well as the almost complete reduction of child labor. In addition, the relationship between the human height and the main indicators of welfare suggest the importance of public health policies and education in well-being improvements.

Suggested Citation

  • José Miguel Martínez-Carrión, 2011. "Anthropometric history of the Iberian world. Lessons we have learned," Documentos de Trabajo (DT-AEHE) 1108, Asociacion Espa–ola de Historia Economica.
  • Handle: RePEc:ahe:dtaehe:1108
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    Keywords

    Height; human growth; biological wellbeing; Spain; Portugal; Iberian;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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