The Physical State of the British Working Class, 1870-1914: Evidence from Army Recruits

40 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2004 Last revised: 18 Jul 2010

See all articles by Roderick Floud

Roderick Floud

London Metropolitan University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Kenneth Wachter

Independent

Annabel Gregory

Independent

Date Written: July 1985

Abstract

It is easier to discover why people died in the past than how healthy they were during their lives. However, in both Europe and North America, much evidence survives about the health of young males from the medical examination of recruits to the armed forces. The paper discusses the possibility of generalizing from one such source, that of British volunteer recruits, to the health of the male working class. It concludes that the source is not seriously biassed and that, after some statistical correction, the data suggest a gradual improvement in the nutritional status, measured by average height, of the British working class.This finding contradicts much contemporary opinion that the British were physically deteriorating in the late nineteenth century.

Suggested Citation

Floud, Roderick and Wachter, Kenneth and Gregory, Annabel, The Physical State of the British Working Class, 1870-1914: Evidence from Army Recruits (July 1985). NBER Working Paper No. w1661, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=338753

Roderick Floud (Contact Author)

London Metropolitan University ( email )

London, N7 8HN
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Kenneth Wachter

Independent

Annabel Gregory

Independent

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