Adult Male Height in an American Colony: Puerto Rico and the USA Mainland Compared, 1886-1955
Posted: 23 Mar 2007
The links between adult height and socioeconomic-political marginality are controversial. We test hypotheses by comparing secular trends between two groups of USA adult male citizens born during 1886-1930: (a) 9805 men surveyed in Puerto Rico during 1965 and (b) 3064 non-Hispanic Whites surveyed on the mainland during 1971-1975. Puerto Rico provides an apt case study because it is the oldest colony in the world and was the poorest region of the USA during the 20th century. During the period considered the average adult man in Puerto Rico was 164.8 cm tall, 8.3 cm shorter than the average adult man on the mainland (173.1 cm). Both groups experienced secular improvements in height, with men on the mainland having higher rates than men in Puerto Rico. In neither case were results statistically significant. The modest changes in Puerto Rico likely reflect the offsetting role of improved health and a stagnant rural economy during the first half of the 20th century.
Keywords: Anthropometrics, Human capital, Nutritional status, Puerto Rico, Physical stature, Height, Secular trends, USA, Political marginalization
JEL Classification: I12, I32, N33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation