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European Heights in the Early 18th Century

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We estimate the height of the English, Irish and Saxon populations in the first half of the 18th century on the basis of North American military records. English and Irish male heights are estimated at c. 165 cm, and 168 cm respectively. These values are below those obtained from the only other sample available for the period pertaining to British and Irish men, namely those of runaway indentured and convict servants in colonial North America. At c. 164 cm Saxon and German military heights appear to be near the bottom of the European height distribution in this period. The English were about as tall as Czechs and Northern French, but shorter than the Irish and Hungarians. A large decline in English heights is evident among the birth cohorts of 1725–1729, suggesting that the subsistence crisis of this period must have had a substantial lasting impact on the nutritional status of the cohort born during a time of nutritional deprivation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2007

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  • Founded in 1903, Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte is the oldest German periodical of social and economic history. The international, peer-reviewed journal features original articles in German, English, French and Italian.

    Today, VSWG is edited by Günther Schulz, Jörg Baten, Markus A. Denzel, Gerhard Fouquet and Hans Pohl and deals with all aspects of social history, social developments from the Middle Ages to today, as well as history of finance and economic history.

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