Stature, Living Standards and Economic Development: Essays in Anthropometric History

What can body measurements tell us about living standards in the past? In this collection of essays studying height and weight data from 18th- and early 19th-century Europe, North America and Asia, 14 scholars explore the relation between physical size, economic development and standard of living among various socioeconomic groups. Analyzing the differences in physical stature by birth group, gender, age, provenance and date and place of birth, these essays examine urban and rural differences in well-being, explore the effects of market integration on previously agricultural societies, contrast the experiences of several segments of society and explain the proximate causes of downturns and upswings in well-being. The researchers conclude that the environment of the New World during this period was far more propitious than that of Europe, based on data showing that European aristocrats were in worse health than even the poorest members of American society. This book should be of interest to demographers, economists, historians, physical anthropologists, sociologists and human biologists.