Stature and Living Standards in the United States
This paper briefly reviews the literature on the evolution of approaches to living standards and then applies the methodology discussed for stature to the United States from the late 18th through the early 20th centuries. Part I of the paper emphasizes two major strands of the subject: national-income accounting and related measures, developed by economists and government policy makers, and anthropometric measures (particularly stature), developed by human biologists, anthropologists, and the medical profession. I compare and contrast these alternative approaches to measuring living standards and place anthropometric measures within the context of the ongoing debate over the system of national accounts. Part II examines the relationship of stature to living standards beginning with a discussion of sources of evidence and the growth process. A statistical analysis explores the relationship of stature to per capita income and the distribution of income using 20th century data. Part III presents evidence on time-trends, regional patterns, and class differences in height. The major phenomena discovered to date are the early achievement of near-modern stature, the downward cycle in stature for cohorts born around 1830 to near the end of the century, the height advantages of the West and the South, and the remarkably small stature of slave children. The secular decline in height is puzzling for economic historians because it clashes with firm beliefs that the mid-nineteenth century was an era of economic prosperity. I establish a framework for reconciling these conflicting views on the course of living standards and discuss possible explanations for the height patterns noted in the paper.
|Date of creation:||Apr 1991|
|Publication status:||published as Gallman, John Joseph and Robert E. Gallman (eds.) American Economic Growth and Standards of Living before the Civil War. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- The Conference on Research in Income and Wealth, 1960. "Trends in the American Economy in the Nineteenth Century," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number unkn60-1, April.
- Roderick Floud, 1984. "The Heights of Europeans Since 1750: A New Source For European Economic History," NBER Working Papers 1318, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Brinkman, Henk Jan & Drukker, J. W. & Slot, Brigitte, 1988. "Height and income: A new method for the estimation of historical national income series," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 227-264, July.
- Johnston, Bruce F, 1977. "Food, Health, and Population in Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 879-907, September.
- Claudia Goldin & Kenneth Sokoloff, 1981.
"Women, Children, and Industrialization in the Early Republic: Evidence from the Manufacturing Censuses,"
UCLA Economics Working Papers
220, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Goldin, Claudia & Sokoloff, Kenneth, 1982. "Women, Children, and Industrialization in the Early Republic: Evidence from the Manufacturing Censuses," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(04), pages 741-774, December.
- Goldin, Claudia & Sokoloff, Kenneth, 1982. "Women, Children, and Industrialization in the Early Republic: Evidence from the Manufacturing Censuses," Scholarly Articles 2664292, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Claudia Goldin & Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 1981. "Women, Children, and Industrialization in the Early Republic: Evidence from the Manufacturing Censuses," NBER Working Papers 0795, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Goldin, Claudia & Margo, Robert A., 1989. "The poor at birth: Birth weights and infant mortality at Philadelphia's almshouse hospital, 1848-1873," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 360-379, July.
- Lindert, Peter H. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1983. "Reinterpreting Britain's social tables, 1688-1913," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 94-109, January.
- M. K. Bennett, 1937. "On Measurement of Relative National Standards of Living," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(2), pages 317-336.
- Roderick Floud & Kenneth Wachter & Annabel Gregory, 1990. "Height, Health, and History: Nutritional Status in the United Kingdom, 1750-1980," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number flou90-1, April.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0024. 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: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.