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The Transformation of Hunger Revisited: Estimating Available Calories from the Budgets of Late Nineteenth-Century British Households

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 June 2015

Ian Gazeley
Professor of Economic History, Department of History, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9QN. E-mail:
Andrew Newell
Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9SL. E-mail:
Mintewab Bezabih
Research Officer Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science, Tower 3, Clements Inn Passage, London WC2A 2AZ. E-mail:


Levels of nutrition among British worker's households in the late nineteenth century have been much debated. Trevon Logan (2006, 2009) estimated a very low average level of available calories. This paper re-examines the data and finds average levels of available calories much more in line with existing studies, more in line with what is known about energy requirements, and more in line with other aspects of the data. In sum, British households were likely to have been significantly better fed than Logan reports.

Copyright © The Economic History Association 2015 

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The authors gratefully acknowledge funding from the U.K. Economic and Social Research Council (Research Grant RES-062-23-2054). The authors wish to thank the editors and two anonymous referees for their many comments and suggestions. Errors remain our responsibilities.



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