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date: 26 June 2022

Stature, Poverty, and Inequality in 19th- and 20th-Century Mexicolocked

Stature, Poverty, and Inequality in 19th- and 20th-Century Mexicolocked

  • Moramay López-AlonsoMoramay López-AlonsoAssociate Professor of History & Adjunct Associate Professor of Economics Department of History Rice University

Summary

Anthropometric studies have shown that the evolution of human stature can be helpful to examine human welfare. Adult stature is an indicator of health status and living standards for periods in which there has not been a systematic collection of data of other indicators, such as the price of goods and wages, as is the case in Mexico prior to 1950. Mexican anthropometric history studies have revealed that stature is a good measure to examine the evolution of living standards in the long run and that it has been effective for assessing poverty and inequality. These studies have shown that, for the period 1850–1950, the evolution of living standards was heterogeneous. There were different trajectories depending on the socioeconomic status. People from working-class backgrounds experienced a deterioration and/or stagnation, while people from upper-class backgrounds experienced a sustained increase in average stature. These trends challenged the official history of the post-revolutionary period, which argued that the living standards of the Mexican population deteriorated during the Porfirio Díaz administration (1876–1911) and improved afterwards with the promulgation of social legislation in the post-revolutionary era (post-1910). Additional studies show that, during the post-1950 period, there was a generalized improvement in stature, but it was limited by the challenges of economic downturns and persistent structural inequality.

Subjects

  • History of Mexico
  • Digital Innovations, Sources, and Interdisciplinary Approaches

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