Autarchy, Market Disintegration, and Health: The Mortality and Nutritional Crisis in Nazi Germany, 1933-1937
Posted: 24 Mar 2003
Trends in mortality, nutritional status and food supply are compared to other living standard indicators for the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) and for the early years of the Nazi regime (1933-1937). The results imply that Germany experienced a substantial increase in mortality rates in most age groups in the mid-1930s, even relative to those of 1932, the worst year of the Great Depression. Moreover, children's heights - an indicator of the quality of nutrition and health - were generally stagnating between 1933 and 1938, but had increased significantly during the 1920s. Persecution, by itself, does not explain such an adverse development in biological welfare; the non-persecuted segments of the German population were affected as well. The reason for this adverse development was caused by the fact that military expenditures increased at the expense of public health measures. In addition, food imports were curtailed, and prices of many agricultural products were controlled. There is ample evidence that this set of economic policies had an adverse effect on the health and nutritional status of the population. The highly developed areas of Germany with large urban sectors and the coastal regions of the Northwest were affected most from the policy of restricting imports of protein-rich agricultural products.
Keywords: Autarchy, Market Disintegration, Health
JEL Classification: D6, F0, I1, N4, P4
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation