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Komlos, John and Cinnirella, Francesco (April 2005): European Heights in the Early 18th Century. Discussion Papers in Economics 2005-5 Economics and Human Biology [PDF, 132kB]


We estimate the height of various European populations in the first half of the 18th century. English and Irish male heights are estimated at c. 65 inches (165 cm), and c. 66 inches (168 cm) respectively. These values are below those obtained from the only other sample available for the period pertaining to British and Irish men, namely those of runaway indentured and convict servants in colonial North America, whose height is estimated as between 66.4 and 67.0 inches (168,7 and 170,2 cm). At c. 64.5 inches (164 cm) Saxon, German and Scotch military heights appear to be near the bottom of the European height distribution in this period. The English were about as tall as Bohemians and French, but shorter than the Irish and Hungarians. A large decline in English heights is evident among the birth cohorts of 1725-29, suggesting that the subsistence crisis of this period must have had a substantial lasting impact on the nutritional status of the cohort born during a time of nutritional deprivation.

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