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date: 27 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter traces global trends in physical stature from the Neolithic Agricultural Revolution to modern times. Major cycles in nutritional status and the biological standard of living can be documented across the course of human history as the amount and quality of nutrition changed. In addition, inequality of living standards increased in the more stratified societies that came into being after the Agricultural Revolution. A second major transformation of living standards began with the Industrial Revolution, putting strain on the biological living standards of many populations, especially when accompanied by population growth, market integration, and rising inequality. A rapid increase in physical stature began in Europe only after the 1870s, about a century after the beginning of modern economic growth. Global studies on height inequality indicate a long-run decline of inequality during the late 19th and early 20th century in Europe. Inequality trends are related to important societal-level outcomes.

Keywords: height, physical stature, biological living standard, health, sanitation, inequality, Neolithic Revolution, agriculture, Industrial Revolution, migration

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