Friday, May 18, 2012

Postfamine stature and socioeconomic status in Ireland

Postfamine stature and socioeconomic status in Ireland

American Journal of Human Biology, Volume 20, Issue 6, pages 726–731, November/December 2008

Kristin Young, John H. Relethford, Michael H. Crawford


Previous research has documented socioeconomic stratification of secular trend in height in historical populations. Using data from 4,900 males and 1,430 females born between 1840 and 1910 collected as part of the Harvard Anthropological Survey of Ireland (1934–1936), this study examined the secular changes in postfamine Ireland using several socioeconomic variables, including: occupation, migration, education, siblings, birthplace, and occupation of father and mother's father. Correlations were also calculated between height and various historical economic indices. Significant differences in the height of Irish males were found by occupation, education, and socioeconomic status of father and maternal grandfather. Males employed in agriculture, or whose fathers or grandfathers were so employed, were significantly taller than other males. For the smaller female sample, only occupation and grandfather's socioeconomic status had a significant impact on height. An inverse correlation was also found between the British Cost of Living Index (BCL) and male heights. Our results suggest that availability of resources plays an important role in the overall nutritional status reflected in terminal adult height.

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