The Biological Standard of Living in 19th century Mexico and in the American West
Scott Alan Carson
University of Texas of the Permian Basin; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)
Economics and Human Biology, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 405-419, 2005
During the mid-19th century, the United States acquired Texas and large parts of Mexican territory with the vast Mexican-born population. This paper considers the biological standard of living of the part of this population that was incarcerated in American prisons. We use their physical stature as a proxy for their biological welfare. These data confirm earlier results which showed that adult heights tended to stagnate in Mexico during the late-19th century despite considerable social and political turmoil. While there is some evidence of a decline in height among youth, the decline is slight (<1 cm). As in other 19th century samples, farmers were the tallest. Americans were taller than Mexican prisoners by about 2 cm.
Keywords: Physical stature, Anthropometric history, Mexico, American West, Height, Biological standard of living, USA
JEL Classification: I10, I31, J15, N30, N36, N96
Date posted: March 23, 2006