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Percentiles of Modern Height Standards for Use in Historical Research

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  • Richard H. Steckel

Abstract

Percentiles of modern height standards are useful in historical research because children differ systematically in height by age, and differences in growth potential exist by gender and might exist across some ethnic groups. Modern height standards are needed to make relative comparisons of nutritional status in these circumstances. The standards are also used to assess progress or deprivation against a level that we know is attainable under good environmental circumstances. Historical researchers in need of modern height standards encounter several problems, including the choice of standards, manipulation of those standards to meet the requirements of historical data, and calculation of percentiles. Following a discussion of criteria used in selecting standards, which lead to the choice of NCHS heights as a reference, the paper gives percentiles calculated in line with the requirements of historical data. Results are given in centimeters and inches and by age at last birthday and age at nearest birthday.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard H. Steckel, 1995. "Percentiles of Modern Height Standards for Use in Historical Research," NBER Historical Working Papers 0075, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0075
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    1. Dora Costa & Richard H. Steckel, 1997. "Long-Term Trends in Health, Welfare, and Economic Growth in the United States," NBER Chapters,in: Health and Welfare during Industrialization, pages 47-90 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. John Komlos, "undated". "Height and Social Status in Eighteenth-Century Germany," Articles by John Komlos 27, Department of Economics, University of Munich.
    3. Steckel, Richard H., 1986. "A Peculiar Population: The Nutrition, Health, and Mortality of American Slaves from Childhood to Maturity," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(03), pages 721-741, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brainerd, Elizabeth, 2010. "Reassessing the Standard of Living in the Soviet Union: An Analysis Using Archival and Anthropometric Data," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 70(01), pages 83-117, March.
    2. Mary Elisabeth Cox, 2015. "Hunger games: or how the Allied blockade in the First World War deprived German children of nutrition, and Allied food aid subsequently saved them," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 68(2), pages 600-631, May.
    3. Scott A. Carson, 2007. "Health during Industrialization: Evidence from the 19th Century Pennsylvania State Prison System," CESifo Working Paper Series 1975, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Scott A. Carson, 2007. "African-American and White Inequality in the American South: Evidence from the 19th Century Missouri State Prison," CESifo Working Paper Series 1954, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. John Komlos, "undated". "On the Biological Standard of Living of Eighteenth-Century Americans: Taller, Richer, Healthier," Articles by John Komlos 3, Department of Economics, University of Munich.
    6. Joseph M. Prince & Richard H. Steckel, 1998. "The Tallest in the World: Native Americans of the Great Plains in the Nineteenth Century," NBER Historical Working Papers 0112, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Steckel, Richard H., 2009. "Heights and human welfare: Recent developments and new directions," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 1-23, January.
    8. Howard Bodenhorn, 2011. "Manumission in nineteenth-century Virginia," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 5(2), pages 145-164, June.
    9. Richard H. Steckel, 2008. "Biological Measures of the Standard of Living," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(1), pages 129-152, Winter.

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