On English Pygmies and giants: the physical stature of English youth in the late 18th and early 19th centuries

Research in Economic History

ISBN: 978-0-7623-1370-9, eISBN: 978-1-84950-459-1

ISSN: 0363-3268

Publication date: 18 December 2007

Abstract

The heights of lower- and upper-class English youth are compared to one another and to their European and North American counterparts in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The height gap between the rich and poor was the greatest in England, reaching 22cm at age 16. The poverty-stricken English teenagers were among the shortest for their age so far discovered in Europe or North America; in contrast, the English rich were the tallest in the world in their time: only 2.5cm shorter than today's US standard. Height of the poor declined in the late 18th century, and again in the 1830s and 1840s conforming to the general European pattern, while the height of the wealthy tended rather to increase until the 1840s and then levelled off. The results support the pessimistic view of the course of living standards among the ultra-poor in the Industrial Revolution period.

Citation

Komlos, J. (2007), "On English Pygmies and giants: the physical stature of English youth in the late 18th and early 19th centuries", Field, A., Clark, G. and Sundstrom, W. (Ed.) Research in Economic History (Research in Economic History, Vol. 25), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 149-168. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0363-3268(07)25003-7

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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