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The Changing Body
Health, Nutrition, and Human Development in the Western World since 1700


Part of New Approaches to Economic and Social History

  • Date Published: March 2011
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521705615

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About the Authors
  • Humans have become much taller and heavier, and experience healthier and longer lives than ever before in human history. However it is only recently that historians, economists, human biologists and demographers have linked the changing size, shape and capability of the human body to economic and demographic change. This fascinating and groundbreaking book presents an accessible introduction to the field of anthropometric history, surveying the causes and consequences of changes in health and mortality, diet and the disease environment in Europe and the United States since 1700. It examines how we define and measure health and nutrition as well as key issues such as whether increased longevity contributes to greater productivity or, instead, imposes burdens on society through the higher costs of healthcare and pensions. The result is a major contribution to economic and social history with important implications for today's developing world and the health trends of the future.

    • Groundbreaking overview of three hundred years of human development which brings together approaches from economics and anthropometric history
    • Puts long-term changes in height, weight, morbidity and mortality in an international context, and projects these changes forward to anticipate future trends
    • Eminent team of authors includes Sir Roderick Floud, and Nobel Prize winner Robert William Fogel
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The scope of this book is breathtaking in its description of the remarkable changes in human constitutions in the Western World over the last 300 years at a pace never seen before in history. Written from a multidisciplinary perspective, it will inform and excite persons in the health and social sciences and give them a new and valuable perspective on modern human development.' Nevin S. Scrimshaw, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and World Food Prize Laureate

    'This contribution to a topic that is rarely out of the news for long is by four distinguished scholars, each an expert in his field, and one of them, Robert Fogel, is a winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics. Volumes produced as cooperative ventures can sometimes appear disjointed, but this is not the case here. There is a pleasing unity in style and presentation.' The Times Higher Education Supplement

    'It has long been widely believed that the upper class look down on the middle and lower classes. Now science has established that this is literally, as well as figuratively, so. Thirty years of research by leading economists, biologists, historians and demographers has confirmed the towering status of the high and mighty. The Changing Body … concludes that there is a clear link between height and earnings. Increases in both, over the past 300 years, are greater than over the three preceding millennia, demonstrating that the changes are too rapid to be evolutionary. And the secret lies in nutrition.' The Independent

    'Rich, complex but surprisingly readable, The Changing Body is a paradigm-shifting contribution. A sub-discipline that began modestly by identifying height as a secondary indicator of wellbeing now provides a way to conceptualize economic, indeed human, progress.' Jane Humphries, Oxford University

    'Roderick Floud and Robert Fogel pioneered the study of the links between nutrition, health, and individual productivity in the past. In this book they, and their two colleagues Bernard Harris and Sok Chul Hong, conduct a masterful survey of what has been achieved in this field in the past quarter century, providing persuasive and thought-provoking evidence whose importance has been greatly underrated.' Tony Wrigley, University of Cambridge

    'The authors of The Changing Body demonstrate the value of anthropometric data and information on health and mortality to the understanding of long-term changes in the economic development of the US, England, France, and elsewhere in continental Europe. They provide important new insights into the causes and consequences of economic change in the modern world.' Stanley L. Engerman, John H. Munro Professor of Economics and Professor of History, University of Rochester

    'For nearly three decades, the Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert W. Fogel and a small clutch of colleagues have assiduously researched what the size and shape of the human body say about economic and social changes throughout history, and vice versa. Their research has spawned not only a new branch of historical study but also a provocative theory that technology has sped human evolution in an unprecedented way during the past century.' New York Times

    '… one of the most comprehensive reviews of mankind's development ever undertaken. Nobel Prize-winning US economist Robert Fogel and a team of colleagues spent three decades pulling together statistics to show how we have changed since 1700.' Daily Mail

    'The statistical analysis involved is subtle, sophisticated … The anthropometric approach to history described in this book is impressive and skilful, and is likely to become routine in the study of future influences on human development.' Nature

    'The Changing Body offers an authoritative summary of the field of technophysio evolution … [the authors] generate new insights into contemporary development processes.' Science

    'Applies a scientific rigour that is rarely encountered in historical work … Historians do not understand science, and scientists do not get history. Fortunately the twain meet in this work which offers a treasure trove for future scholars.' The London Magazine

    '… a must-read for anyone interested in the insights that anthropometric history has produced in recent decades.' International Review of Social History

    '… The Changing Body is a very important book … well written and organised … an excellent book that I will reread again and again for insight and inspiration.' Journal of Continuity and Change

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2011
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521705615
    • length: 456 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.73kg
    • contains: 86 b/w illus. 74 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Our changing bodies:
    300 years of technophysio evolution
    2. Investigating the interaction of biological, demographic, and economic variables from fragmentary data
    3. The analysis of long-term trends in nutritional status, mortality, and economic growth
    4. Technophysio evolution and human health in England and Wales since 1700
    5. Height, health, and mortality in continental Europe, 1700–2100
    6. The American experience of technophysio evolution
    7. Conclusion.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Fertility, Families, and Human Migration
    • Food and Nutrition in International Development
    • Human Ecology, Epidemiology, and Public Health
    • Nutrition and Human development
    • The City and Human Health
    • The Medical History and Literature of the Body
  • Authors

    Roderick Floud, Gresham College
    Sir Roderick Floud is Provost of Gresham College, London. He is editor of The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and has published many books on British economic history including Height, Health and History: Nutritional Status in the United Kingdom, 1750–1980 (with Kenneth Wachter and Annabel Gregory, Cambridge University Press, 1990). He is a Research Associate for the National Bureau for Economic Research, and has received a knighthood for services to higher education.

    Robert W. Fogel, University of Chicago
    Robert William Fogel is a Professor of Economics and the Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of American Institutions at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where he is Director of the Center for Population Economics. His many published titles include The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, 1700–2100: Europe, America, and the Third World (Cambridge University Press, 2004). He is a Research Associate for the National Bureau for Economic Research, and received the Nobel Prize in economics in 1993.

    Bernard Harris, University of Strathclyde
    Bernard Harris is Professor of the History of Social Policy at the University of Strathclyde. His published titles include The Health of the Schoolchild: A History of the School Medical Service in England and Wales (1995) and The Origins of the British Welfare State: State, Society and Welfare in Britain, 1800–1945 (2004).

    Sok Chul Hong, Sogang University, Seoul
    Sok Chul Hong is Assistant Professor of Economics at Sogang University, South Korea. His current research focuses on the medical and environmental technological innovation of human development.

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