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Did smallpox reduce height?: stature and the standard of living in London, 1770-1873

Voth, Hans-Joachim and Leunig, Tim (1996) Did smallpox reduce height?: stature and the standard of living in London, 1770-1873. Economic History Review, 49 (3). pp. 541-560. ISSN 1468-0289

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Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1468-0289.1996.tb00581.x


In this paper, we re-examine the effect of smallpox on the height attained by those who suffered from this disease. To this end, we analyse a dataset assembled by Floud, Wachter and Gregory on the height of recruits into the Marine Society, 1770-1873. Using both time series and cross-sectional analysis, we show that smallpox was indeed an important determinant of height: those who had suffered from smallpox were significantly shorter. This suggests that the increase in heights documented by Floud et al. may be explained not just by increased nutritional intake, but also by the eradication of smallpox.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 1996 Blackwell Publishing
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Sets: Departments > Economic History
Research centres and groups > Spatial Economics Research Centre
Collections > Economists Online
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2006
Last Modified: 30 Jul 2012 15:04

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