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date: 16 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter documents human development in the very long run on the basis of anthropometric indicators used as a proxy measure of the biological standard of living. The author explores the trend in height of European populations, controlling for aspects of natural, economic, and social change. Findings include that there was a small increase in overall mean height in Europe from the 8th century BCE to the 18th century CE (c. 0.5 cm per millennium on average for the total dataset), with regional and temporal variations, including particular low points during Roman ascendancy (1st century BCE in Mediterranean Europe, 8 cm below the predicted mean) and the Little Ice Age (17th century CE in North-Eastern Europe, 7 cm below the predicted mean). Significant explanatory variables for these trends are the availability of dairy products, the share of the population living in urban areas, and the impact of the Roman Empire.

Keywords: biological standard of living, Late Iron Age, Little Ice Age, Roman Empire, height trends, European population, human development

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