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Living standards in settler South Africa, 1865-1920

Author

Listed:
  • Johan Fourie
  • Kris Inwood
  • Martine Mariotti

Abstract

We construct an anthropometric measure of living standards for White South Africans covering 55 years using five different military sources. Accounting for different selection across the forces, we find that prior to industrialisation, White South African males were amongst the tallest in the world. Rural living standards declined in response to natural disasters in the 1880s and 90s with those with the lowest living standards moving off the land and into the cities. We find a slight improvement in living standards after 1900 across all regions and occupations. During industrialisation, White males in South Africa continued to exhibit the highest living standards in the world as represented by their stature. Convergence to other nations in the early twentieth century shows, however, that while there may have been no industrialisation penalty, industrialisation did not lift living standards the way it did elsewhere.

Suggested Citation

  • Johan Fourie & Kris Inwood & Martine Mariotti, 2022. "Living standards in settler South Africa, 1865-1920," CEH Discussion Papers 07, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:auu:hpaper:106
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    File URL: https://cbe.anu.edu.au/researchpapers/CEH/WP202207.pdf
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    anthropometric; South Africa; stature; height; living standards;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania

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