The Biological Standard of Living in 19th century Mexico and in the American West

Economics and Human Biology, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 405-419, 2005

Posted: 23 Mar 2006  

Scott Alan Carson

University of Texas of the Permian Basin; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Carson, Scott Alan, The Biological Standard of Living in 19th century Mexico and in the American West . Economics and Human Biology, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 405-419, 2005 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=890802

Scott Alan Carson (Contact Author)

University of Texas of the Permian Basin ( email )

4901 East University
Odessa, TX 79762
United States

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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