IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Anthropometric history of the Iberian world. Lessons we have learned


  • José Miguel Martínez-Carrión

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


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

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ahe:dtaehe:1108. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sara Torregrosa Hetland). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.