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The biological standard of living in La Paz (Bolivia), 1880s–1920s: Persistent stagnation and inequality

Boris Branisa (), José Peres-Cajías () and Nigel Caspa

Economics & Human Biology, 2020, vol. 37, issue C

Abstract: Based on almost 5.000 direct observations on National Identification Cards, this paper offers the first estimation of the evolution of average heights in the city of La Paz (Bolivia) for the decades 1880s–1920s. The analysis focuses on men of middle and upper classes aged 19–50 years old. Despite the city’s growing economic importance and modernization, average heights remained stagnant around 163 cm. It also stands out that whereas average height differences between professional and ethnic groups remained significant and persistent throughout time, average heights remained stagnant in all groups. Three main reasons are provided to explain these inequalities between groups and stagnation across groups: scarce improvements in agricultural production, increasing wage inequalities and the persistence of a bad disease environment.

Keywords: Anthropometric history; Heights; Welfare; Inequality; First Globalization (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2020.100849

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