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The Anthropometric History of Native Americans, c. 1820-1890

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  • John Komlos
  • Leonard Carlson

Abstract

The trend of the height of Indian scouts in the U.S. Army born between ca. 1825 and 1875 is analyzed. Their average height of ca. 170 cm (67 in.) confirms that natives were tall compared to Europeans but were nearly the shortest among the rural populations in the New World. The trend in their height describes a slightly inverted U-shape with an increase between those born 1820-34 and 1835-39 of ca. 1.8 cm (0.7 in.) (p=0.000) and a subsequent slight decline after the Civil War. This implies that they were able to maintain and perhaps even improve their nutritional status through the Civil War, though harder times followed for those born thereafter. We also recalculate the heights of Native Americans in the Boas sample and find that the Plains Indians were shorter than most rural Americans. The trend in the height of Indians in the Boas sample is similar to that of the Scouts.

Suggested Citation

  • John Komlos & Leonard Carlson, 2010. "The Anthropometric History of Native Americans, c. 1820-1890," Emory Economics 1006, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
  • Handle: RePEc:emo:wp2003:1006
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. A'Hearn, Brian, 2004. "A restricted maximum likelihood estimator for truncated height samples," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 5-19, March.
    2. John Komlos, 2007. "Anthropometric evidence on economic growth, biological well-being and regional convergence in the Habsburg Monarchy, c. 1850–1910," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 1(3), pages 211-237, October.
    3. Ruud, Paul A., 2000. "An Introduction to Classical Econometric Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195111644.
    4. Wishart, David M., 1995. "Evidence of Surplus Production in the Cherokee Nation Prior to Removal," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 55(01), pages 120-138, March.
    5. Cole, T. J., 2003. "The secular trend in human physical growth: a biological view," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 161-168, June.
    6. Komlos, John, 1987. "The Height and Weight of West Point Cadets: Dietary Change in Antebellum America," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(04), pages 897-927, December.
    7. Zehetmayer, Matthias, 2011. "The continuation of the antebellum puzzle: stature in the US, 1847–1894," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(02), pages 313-327, August.
    8. Goldin, Claudia & Rockoff, Hugh (ed.), 1992. "Strategic Factors in Nineteenth Century American Economic History," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226301129, December.
    9. Claudia Goldin & Hugh Rockoff, 1992. "Strategic Factors in Nineteenth Century American Economic History: A Volume to Honor Robert W. Fogel," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gold92-1.
    10. Steckel, Richard H., 2010. "Inequality Amidst Nutritional Abundance: Native Americans on the Great Plains," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 70(02), pages 265-286, June.
    11. Sunder, Marco, 2004. "The height of Tennessee convicts: another piece of the "antebellum puzzle"," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 75-86, March.
    12. Joseph M. Prince & Richard H. Steckel, 2001. "Tallest in the World: Native Americans of the Great Plains in the Nineteenth Century," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 287-294, March.
    13. Carlson, Leonard A., 1978. "The Dawes Act and the Decline of Indian Farming," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(01), pages 274-276, March.
    14. John Komlos, 2003. "Access to Food and the Biological Standard of Living: Perspectives on the Nutritional Status of Native Americans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 252-255, March.
    15. Carson, Scott Alan, 2008. "The Effect of Geography and Vitamin D on African American Stature in the Nineteenth Century: Evidence from Prison Records," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(03), pages 812-831, September.
    16. John Komlos, "undated". "Stature and Nutrition in the Habsburg Monarchy: The Standard of Living and Economic Development," Articles by John Komlos 36, Department of Economics, University of Munich.
    17. Komlos, John, 2003. "How to (and How Not to) Analyze Deficient Height Samples," Discussion Papers in Economics 56, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    18. Komlos, John, 1998. "Shrinking in a Growing Economy? The Mystery of Physical Stature during the Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 779-802, September.
    19. John Komlos, 1992. "Toward an Anthropometric History of African-Americans: The Case of the Free Blacks in Antebellum Maryland," NBER Chapters,in: Strategic Factors in Nineteenth Century American Economic History: A Volume to Honor Robert W. Fogel, pages 297-329 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. 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. Gregg, Matthew T. & Wishart, David M., 2012. "The price of Cherokee removal," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 423-442.
    2. Donna Feir & Rob Gillezeau & Maggie Jones, 2017. "The Slaughter of the North American Bison and Reversal of Fortunes on the Great Plains," Department Discussion Papers 1701, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.

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    • N00 - Economic History - - General - - - General

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