Changes in American and British Stature Since the Mid-Eighteenth Century: A Prelimanary Report on the Usefulness of Data on Height...

Robert W. Fogel, Stanley L. Engerman, Roderick Floud, Richard H. Steckel, James Trussell

NBER Working Paper No. 890
Issued in May 1982
NBER Program(s):Development of the American Economy

This paper is a progress report on the usefulness of data on physical height for the analysis of long-ten changes in the level of nutrition and health on economic, social, and demographic behavior. It is based on a set of samples covering the U.S. and several other nations over the years from 1750 to the present. The preliminary results indicate that native-born. American Revolution, but there were long periods of declining nutrition and height during the 19th century. Similar cycling has been established for England. A variety of factors, including crop mix, urbanization, occupation, intensity of labor, and immigration affected the level of height and nutrition, although the relative importance of these factors has changed over time. There is evidence that nutrition affected labor productivity. In one of the samples individuals who were one standard deviation above the mean height (holding weight per inch of height constant) were about 8% more productive than individuals one standard deviation below the mean height. Another finding is that death did not choose people at random. Analysis of data for Trinidad indicates that the annual death rate for the shortest quintile of males was more than twice as great as for the tallest quintile of males.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w0890

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