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Industrialization and Health in Historical Perspective

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  • Richard H. Steckel

Abstract

This essay discusses recent progress that has been made in understanding the connection between health and industrialization in 8 developed countries. Because earlier efforts have been stymied by lack of reliable measures of mortality, the most recent work utilizes average height obtained from military records. Average heights measure a population's history of net nutrition during the growing years. Based on this measure, health improved uniformly during industrialization in Sweden, but it actually declined for several decades in two countries and generally improved with interruptions in others. Health was inversely correlated with the degree of urbanization across countries and rising urbanization led to health deterioration, especially in England, Australia, and Japan. Public health policy, diets, and business cycles were also important for health during industrialization.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard H. Steckel, 1999. "Industrialization and Health in Historical Perspective," NBER Historical Working Papers 0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0118
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    3. 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.
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    5. Richard H. Steckel, 1982. "Height and Per Capita Income," NBER Working Papers 0880, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    10. repec:ucp:bknber:9780226771564 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

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    2. Antonios Garas & Sophie Guthmuller & Athanasios Lapatinas, 2021. "The development of nations conditions the disease space," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 16(1), pages 1-35, January.
    3. Foldvari, Peter & van Leeuwen, Bas & Marks, Daan & Gall, Jozsef, 2013. "Indonesian regional welfare development, 1900–1990: New anthropometric evidence," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 78-89.
    4. Martinez-Carrion, Jose-Miguel & Moreno-Lazaro, Javier, 2007. "Was there an urban height penalty in Spain, 1840-1913?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 144-164, March.
    5. Richard H. Steckel, 2001. "Health and Nutrition in the Preindustrial Era: Insights from a Millennium of Average Heights in Northern Europe," NBER Working Papers 8542, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Bassino, Jean-Pascal, 2006. "Inequality in Japan (1892-1941): Physical stature, income, and health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 62-88, January.

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