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New anthropometric evidence on living standards in nineteenth-century Chile

Manuel Llorca-Jaña (), Damian Clarke, Juan Navarrete-Montalvo, Roberto Araya-Valenzuela and Martina Allende

Economics & Human Biology, 2020, vol. 36, issue C

Abstract: A sample of over 44 thousand Chilean marines was used to estimate the trend of mean heights from the 1820s to the 1890s. We confirm that there was height stagnation in the last decades of the nineteenth-century Chile despite sizeable per capita GDP growth; there were hidden nutritional costs to this economic growth. This situation resembles a similar puzzle in antebellum USA or early industrial Britain, but in the case of Chile GDP growth is not explained by industrialization but by export-led-growth. Still, the results are similar: height stagnation. Regarding the determinants of adult male height, our data also convincingly showed that there was a significant correlation between height and literacy. There was a positive correlation between height and white ethnicity, and, linked to this, a strong negative correlation between stature and eyes reported as “black”. Finally, living in urban environments (or environments with higher population density) also negatively affected height.

Keywords: Height; Chile; Navy; Living conditions; Nineteenth century (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I10 I12 I31 J15 N36 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2019.100819

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