Climate effects and stature since 1800

Galofré-Vilà, Gregori; Guntupalli, Aravinda; Harris, Bernard and Hinde, Andrew (2018). Climate effects and stature since 1800. Social Science History, 42(4) pp. 763–794.



During the last 30 years, economic and social historians have collected and analysed large amounts of anthropometric data in order to explore key aspects of the human past. Attention has also been devoted to the examination of factors that can exert an influence on stature. This article outlines the different ways in which climate might influence stature, either directly or indirectly. It then uses Geographical Information System (GIS) software to explore the relationship between variations in temperature and precipitation and the average heights of men in France, India, Mexico, Spain and the United States (US) over the last two centuries. It is possible to observe an influence of climate on stature in some countries, especially during the nineteenth century, but the relationship weakens across time and largely disappears in recent decades. The attenuation of this relationship is attributed to a process of “technophysio evolution” as countries modernised and developed economically.

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