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date: 18 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Long-run height series for several southern European countries stagnate or decline from the early 18th to the mid-19th century. Read jointly with estimates of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and real wages, this evidence indicates that Mediterranean households were forced to work increasing annual hours in an effort to protect an already meager living standard. After the mid-19th century, conditions improved in all countries, but with different timing. Also different was the phasing of anthropometric and economic improvements, reflecting distributional and public health influences on living conditions. Today’s southern Europeans are typically shorter than their northern neighbors, which is only partly explicable in terms of measured health and wealth in the region. New evidence indicates that genetic differences may also play a role.

Keywords: public health, height, anthropometric, long-run height, Mediterranean, early 18th century, mid-19th century

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