Proposal preview

Prices, income, consumption baskets, and heights: Living standards in the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America (16th to 20th centuries)

At national or international levels, many academic meetings have been held recently on the diverse aspects of historical research dealing with welfare conditions in the past, either from ancient or recent times. The last WEHC, held in Kyoto in 2015, was no exception: it included a successful session titled “Welfare, inequality and standards of living compared: America, Europe and Asia, ca. 1500-2000”. Some of the participants at that meeting are now proposing this new session which will present the results of new research on economic and biologic standards of living.
More precisely, the session we propose focuses on the Iberian and Latin American cases. The two of them are already present in the global picture of living standards from which they have been absent until not so long ago. The time period chosen is the same as in Kyoto. The amplitude of the period shows our interest in the long run and on changes and continuities resulting from modern economic growth or the lack of it. We invite, then, to send communications on the following topics: indexes of prices and income from wages and other sources; consumption baskets from “third generation” which improve the methodology used so far; biological welfare indicators, such as heights.
We especially welcome those communications that compare across time and space or combine approaches from different disciplines (History, Economics, Anthropometrics, etc.). English, Portuguese and Spanish languages are accepted.

Organizer(s)

  • Rafael Dobado Universidad Complutense de Madrid rdobado@ccee.ucm.es Spain
  • Jorge Gelman † Universidad de Buenos Aires/CONICET, Instituto Ravignani jorgegelman@gmail.com Argentina
  • Daniel Santilli Universidad de Buenos Aires/CONICET, Instituto Ravignani dvsantilli@gmail.com Argentina
  • Roberto Schmit UBA-CONICET-UNGS rschmit@ungs.edu.ar Argentina

Session members

  • Ricardo Salvatore, UTDT
  • Guido Alfani, Bocconi University, Dondena Centre and IGIER
  • Alfredo García-Hiernaux, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
  • María Inés Moraes, UdelaR
  • Manuel Llorca Jaña, Universidad de Santiago de Chile
  • Antonio Cámara, Universidad de Jaén
  • Manuel Gonzalez Mariscal, Universidad de Sevilla
  • Isabel Bartolomé Rodríguez, Universidad de Sevilla
  • Emilio Pérez Romero, Univesidad Complutense de Madrid
  • Andrés Calderón Fernandez, UNAM
  • Héctor García Montero, Public University of Navarre
  • José Miguel Lana, Public University of Navarre
  • Antonio Linares Lujan, Universidad de Extremadura
  • Francisco Parejo-Moruno, Universidad de Extremadura
  • Juan Navarrete-Montalvo, Universidad de Santiago de Chile
  • Roberto Araya-Valenzuela, Universidad de Santiago de Chile
  • Federico Droller, Universidad de Santiago de Chile
  • Juan Luis Martiren, Instituto Ravignani UBA/CONICET
  • Miguel Reyes Hernández, IBERO/Santa Fe/CDMX
  • Tommy E Murphy , Universidad de San Andrés
  • Amilcar Challú, Bowling Green State University, Ohio
  • Carolina Román, UdelaR & Universitat de Barcelona
  • Luis Bértola, UdelaR
  • Julio Cesar Djenderedjian, Instituto Ravignaini UBA/CONICET
  • Carina Frid,
  • Antonio Camara, Universidad de Jaen
  • José Miguel Martinez Carrión, Universidad de Murcia
  • Moramay López Alonso,
  • Aurora Gomez Galvarriato, El Colegio de México
  • Javier Puche, Universidad de Zaragoza
  • Josep M Ramón, Universidad de Murcia
  • José Ignacio Andrés Ucendo, Universidad del País Vasco
  • Ramón Lanza García, UAM
  • Humberto Morales Moreno, CIHES/FFYL/BUAP

Discussant(s)

  • Rafael Dobado Universidad Complutense de Madrid rdobado@ccee.ucm.es
  • Daniel Santilli Universidad de Buenos Aires/CONICET, Instituto Ravignani dvsantilli@gmail.com
  • Roberto Schmit UBA-CONICET-UNGS rschmit@ungs.edu.ar
  • Aurora Gómez Galvarriato El Colegio de México aurorag@mac.com
  • Moramay López Alonso moramay_lopezalonso@stanfordalumni.org
  • Amilcar Challú Bowling Green State University, Ohio achallu@bgsu.edu

Papers

Panel abstract

At national or international levels, many academic meetings have been held recently on the diverse aspects of historical research dealing with welfare conditions in the past, either from ancient or recent times. We propose focuses on the Iberian and Latin American cases. The two of them are already present in the global picture of living standards from which they have been absent until not so long ago. The amplitude of the period shows our interest in the long run and on changes and continuities resulting from modern economic growth or the lack of it. There will be send communications on the following topics: indexes of prices and income from wages and other sources; consumption baskets from “third generation” which improve the methodology used so far; biological welfare indicators, such as heights.

1st half

Precios y salarios en la ciudad de Segovia, 1559-1840

José Ignacio Andrés Ucendo y Ramón Lanza García

The growth and crisis of the Castilian cities during the Early Modern Period is one side of the rise and decadence of Spain, which has drawn the interest of researchers and historians for long. The aim of our communication is to deal with this process through an analysis focused on the evolution of prices and real wages in Segovia between the mid XVIth century and 1840. Segovia is ideally suited to this purpose for many reasons. The city was included in the small group of Castilian towns with the right to send its representatives to the Castilian Cortes, the Parliamentary Assembly of the country, and this turned Segovia into an important provincial capital. At the same time, the local woollen manufactures went through its Golden Age during the XVIth century, when Segovia became one of the most important Castilian textile centres. Lastly, the vast and rich documentary sources at our...

The growth and crisis of the Castilian cities during the Early Modern Period is one side of the rise and decadence of Spain, which has drawn the interest of researchers and historians for long. The aim of our communication is to deal with this process through an analysis focused on the evolution of prices and real wages in Segovia between the mid XVIth century and 1840. Segovia is ideally suited to this purpose for many reasons. The city was included in the small group of Castilian towns with the right to send its representatives to the Castilian Cortes, the Parliamentary Assembly of the country, and this turned Segovia into an important provincial capital. At the same time, the local woollen manufactures went through its Golden Age during the XVIth century, when Segovia became one of the most important Castilian textile centres. Lastly, the vast and rich documentary sources at our disposal —mainly the town council records, and the ledgers of a selected group local Hospitals and convents— enable us to compile reliable prices and real wages indexes for Segovia for three centuries. Measured in silver or vellón terms, our price index shows the extent of the XVII century inflation, the long low-level stagnation until the renewed upsurge form the 1750 to 1814 and the fall that came along the slow decadence of the Spanish Ancien Regime. The real wages earned by the building labourers and officials of Segovia boomed around 1600-1620, but they plunged in the next decades. This fall was driven by the simultaneous economic decadence of the city and the inflationary policies pursued by the Crown during most of the period. The extent of the fall of the Segovian real wages widened from 1760, and it was not until after the Independence War that they experienced some recovery, although modest. Although the Segovian case has its own particularities, its study enables us to reach a better understanding of the course of the urban economies of Castile and Spain during the Early Modern period and, specially, the development of its textile manufactures.

Cost of living and food prices in colonial Montevideo, 1760-1814

María Inés Moraes

This paper presents a study on the cost of living of the inhabitants of Montevideo between the beginning of the Bourbon Reforms (1760) and the end of Spanish rule (1814). The work presents, first, the basic foods that made up the diet and a study of the current prices of each of these foodstuffs during the period. Second, short-term periods in the history of food prices from Montevideo are identified by means of simple statistics estimated on the series of current prices. Then the paper discusses the composition of a popular consumption basket, and finally presents three price indexes for the period, each with a different structure of food consumption.

This paper presents a study on the cost of living of the inhabitants of Montevideo between the beginning of the Bourbon Reforms (1760) and the end of Spanish rule (1814). The work presents, first, the basic foods that made up the diet and a study of the current prices of each of these foodstuffs during the period. Second, short-term periods in the history of food prices from Montevideo are identified by means of simple statistics estimated on the series of current prices. Then the paper discusses the composition of a popular consumption basket, and finally presents three price indexes for the period, each with a different structure of food consumption.

Evolution of prices for the measurement of various baskets of prices and inflation in Buenos Aires during the first half of the nineteenth century

Roberto Schmit

In a context of transformations of the institutional variables (institutional, political and years of war) and economic variables (of openness to free trade and full insertion of the Río de la Plata in the Atlantic markets) in the present work we study the evolution of the prices of the most representative goods of the Buenos Aires market in the five decades after the independence of the Spanish empire. The paper analyzes the evolution of import, export and local prices in Buenos Aires for the first half of the 19th century. The essay intends to contribute to a more accurate estimate of the intense process of inflation of prices and changes in relative prices that occurred in Buenos Aires during those decades. How we also aspire to be able to analyze the relationships between the increase in prices and the institutional effects of commercial blockades, the issuance of paper money and...

In a context of transformations of the institutional variables (institutional, political and years of war) and economic variables (of openness to free trade and full insertion of the Río de la Plata in the Atlantic markets) in the present work we study the evolution of the prices of the most representative goods of the Buenos Aires market in the five decades after the independence of the Spanish empire. The paper analyzes the evolution of import, export and local prices in Buenos Aires for the first half of the 19th century. The essay intends to contribute to a more accurate estimate of the intense process of inflation of prices and changes in relative prices that occurred in Buenos Aires during those decades. How we also aspire to be able to analyze the relationships between the increase in prices and the institutional effects of commercial blockades, the issuance of paper money and changes in the demand for goods that occurred in the commercial interaction of Buenos Aires. It is also intended to compare the dynamics of various baskets of goods that allow us to evaluate the differentiated effects in local, regional and overseas offers and demands. So in the study we analyze both the general price indexes, with their main changes, and also aim to integrate a variety of products in baskets that represent as best as possible the diverse demands of the commercial space that supplied and demanded products from the broad market Buenos Aires So that finally we can ponder and reexamine the effects of the price variations of the baskets of prices on the various social sectors and regions linked to the significant interregional plaza that represented the Buenos Aires market.

El nivel de vida en la Argentina naciente. Salarios, costo de vida y cobertura de una canasta básica en las 14 provincias, 1875

Julio Djenderedjian

Los estudios sobre nivel de vida para épocas preestadísticas han registrado considerables avances en las últimas décadas, particularmente en función de metodologías ad hoc, diseñadas para sortear la falta de los indicadores usuales en la actualidad para mediciones de ese tipo, y orientadas a la comparación internacional. Esas metodologías, sin embargo, a menudo afrontan difíciles problemas de homogeneidad y comparabilidad de la información. Se olvida asimismo que no necesariamente los datos de una única gran ciudad pueden dar cuenta de la compleja evolución y gran diversidad de situaciones de un país cuando aún no existían medios de comunicación modernos y por tanto los mercados locales de bienes básicos estaban determinados fundamentalmente por la producción de sus áreas circundantes. En este trabajo proponemos un análisis efectuado a partir de una sola y bastante homogénea fuente, el informe anual del Comisario General de Inmigración, correspondiente a 18751. Ofrece información recopilada por las...

Los estudios sobre nivel de vida para épocas preestadísticas han registrado considerables avances en las últimas décadas, particularmente en función de metodologías ad hoc, diseñadas para sortear la falta de los indicadores usuales en la actualidad para mediciones de ese tipo, y orientadas a la comparación internacional. Esas metodologías, sin embargo, a menudo afrontan difíciles problemas de homogeneidad y comparabilidad de la información. Se olvida asimismo que no necesariamente los datos de una única gran ciudad pueden dar cuenta de la compleja evolución y gran diversidad de situaciones de un país cuando aún no existían medios de comunicación modernos y por tanto los mercados locales de bienes básicos estaban determinados fundamentalmente por la producción de sus áreas circundantes. En este trabajo proponemos un análisis efectuado a partir de una sola y bastante homogénea fuente, el informe anual del Comisario General de Inmigración, correspondiente a 18751. Ofrece información recopilada por las distintas delegaciones regionales situadas en puntos de cada una de las catorce provincias que por entonces formaban la Argentina, respondiendo a una serie de preguntas relacionadas con los salarios corrientes en cada una de ellas, el costo de los alimentos básicos, los alquileres, los precios de la tierra y del ganado, así como los de los principales cultivos. Por tratarse de un momento previo a la plena conformación de un mercado nacional, resulta un útil observatorio de la heterogeneidad de situaciones, en particular evidentes no sólo en la dispersión de los valores, sino también en la gran diversidad de ocupaciones, en muchos sitios pautadas mayormente por los imperativos de una economía rural y tradicional, que contrastaba sin embargo con el dinamismo de las áreas litorales volcadas a la economía atlántica. Construiremos ratios de bienestar utilizando las categorías más bajas de asalariados (a jornal y por mes), relacionando sus ingresos con el costo de una canasta básica alimentaria de 1.941 calorías, razonablemente construida en los términos de Allen (2001), con el fin de obtener indicadores que reflejen las diversidades y en especial las diferencias de las distintas localidades del interior con respecto a la provincia de Buenos Aires (por lejos la mejor estudiada), y ponderarlos para elaborar un índice general que represente algo más fehacientemente al país entero que su opulenta capital.

Real wages and cost of living in farmer Pampas (Santa Fe, Argentina, 1857-1904)

Juan Luis Martirén

In this paper, I examine the evolution of real wages and living conditions among farmers of Santa Fe province between 1857 and 1904. This period saw the dramatic transformation of the Pampas rural economy from a subsistence one to an economy based on the export of commercial wheat. The newly arrived immigrants in the new colonies of Santa Fe adapted to and were sufficiently versatile to changes in the international cereal market, leading to this commercial expansion in the region. Extant literature has shown several aspects of this process, particularly those related to wealth accumulation, inequality and social mobility. But there are still many gaps on other variables, such as labor market and the relationship between farmer’s living standards and economic growth. Using statistical data from private accounts of rural and industrial entrepreneurs, I develop series of rural wages of unskilled peons and a consumer price index based on basic...

In this paper, I examine the evolution of real wages and living conditions among farmers of Santa Fe province between 1857 and 1904. This period saw the dramatic transformation of the Pampas rural economy from a subsistence one to an economy based on the export of commercial wheat. The newly arrived immigrants in the new colonies of Santa Fe adapted to and were sufficiently versatile to changes in the international cereal market, leading to this commercial expansion in the region. Extant literature has shown several aspects of this process, particularly those related to wealth accumulation, inequality and social mobility. But there are still many gaps on other variables, such as labor market and the relationship between farmer’s living standards and economic growth. Using statistical data from private accounts of rural and industrial entrepreneurs, I develop series of rural wages of unskilled peons and a consumer price index based on basic consumer goods (i.e., wheat, flour, bread, meat, potatoes and sugar). My goal is to gauge the evolution of real wages over time. Also, I use Robert Allen’s methodology to estimate baskets of consumer goods across time (1857, 1872, 1884, 1895 and 1904) to determine cost of living.

History Revenge: Discussing Living Standards in Global Comparison. The case of Rio de la Plata, 1700-1850

Carina Frid, Julio Djenderedjian y Juan Luis Martirén

In the last decade, discussions on living standards in the past have been, and still are, intense. One of the main issues is how to measure purchasing power in different regions of the world, whenever poorly collected and comparable data are available. Monthly salaries as compared to “bare bone baskets” (BBB), in the terms stated by Allen (2001), is perhaps the most widely used strategy. But it raises serious problems. Firstly, monthly salary, prior to modern times, was not necessarily a universal useful expression of purchasing power, or income. Most cities, or regions or countries, relied on slaves, or on non- paid forms of work; also, workers were usually part of family groups, more or less extended, so that salaries were only a portion of the whole family income. Frequently, there were also salary add-ons (food, shelter) which need to be accounted. The relationship between patrons and workers was also...

In the last decade, discussions on living standards in the past have been, and still are, intense. One of the main issues is how to measure purchasing power in different regions of the world, whenever poorly collected and comparable data are available. Monthly salaries as compared to “bare bone baskets” (BBB), in the terms stated by Allen (2001), is perhaps the most widely used strategy. But it raises serious problems. Firstly, monthly salary, prior to modern times, was not necessarily a universal useful expression of purchasing power, or income. Most cities, or regions or countries, relied on slaves, or on non- paid forms of work; also, workers were usually part of family groups, more or less extended, so that salaries were only a portion of the whole family income. Frequently, there were also salary add-ons (food, shelter) which need to be accounted. The relationship between patrons and workers was also casted by very different cultural traditions, moral issues, economic reasons. Many workers' traits had to be paid for: loyalty, subservience to orders, docility, availability, and much more, all featured by the strong moral frame of the Ancien Régime. Consequently, the above mentioned issues determined different features for salaries in such way that it is truly difficult to agree that salaries are simply interchange of money for services; in any case, no direct relationship between a nominal monthly salary and the cost of living is apparent. Secondly, there are also serious concerns on the representativeness of the BBB. It is not unusual to find that, in the past, each region had a distinct structure of consumer basket. Some cities, or countries, relied mainly on only one basic subsistence good: e.g., maize in Mexico, or bread in France. But many others relied on two or three goods, and, most importantly, prices of these goods changed asymmetrically, granting most people access to a minimal subsistence level, avoiding death by hunger even during the worst economic crisis. There were also non-basic but irreplaceable goods, widely consumed for cultural or economic reasons; their demand stood steadily even under high prices short-cycles. There are good reasons to find new ways to offer better strategies for comparisons. This paper focuses on indicators based on unskilled worker’s day wages (not monthly salaries), as compared to a basket defined on consumption and availability of goods in that region. The calories of this basket were carried out to match 1941 unities of Allen's BBB, although an actual daily basket was much stronger. This study also seeks to prove that day-wages implied a kind of contract associated with simple interchange of money and services than monthly salaries did. Comparison with Allen’s indicators shows extremely different results, our method being the first one to approach the resistance level of the purchasing power of a day wage, throughout a century and a half (1700-1850). That is, it reasonably portrays the equilibrium existing between supply and demand of labor. Moreover, it shows in all its depth the impact of the economic crisis, particularly during the hardest one (1821-25), whereas the implementation of Allen’s methodology proved to be unable to identify any crisis in those years.

Piecework and wages in nineteenth century rural Spain

Héctor García Montero y José Miguel Lana

The study of piece rate wages is rare in the literature on the evolution of real wages and the standard of living. Piecework has clear advantages for the employer at an adequate scale, since it requires less supervision, distinguish efficient and inefficient workers, ensure work intensity, increase production, and allows cost control. From the worker’s point of view, it also has advantages, as it permits to increase the earnings through the intensification of efforts and soften the external discipline. However, this system does not guarantee a minimum wage and the determination of the price of work is less easy than in the case of time rate wages. This proposal aims to cover this hole for the second half of the 18th century and the 19th century taking some regions of Spain (provinces of Navarre and Toledo) as a laboratory. We offer some series of piece rate wages for several agricultural...

The study of piece rate wages is rare in the literature on the evolution of real wages and the standard of living. Piecework has clear advantages for the employer at an adequate scale, since it requires less supervision, distinguish efficient and inefficient workers, ensure work intensity, increase production, and allows cost control. From the worker’s point of view, it also has advantages, as it permits to increase the earnings through the intensification of efforts and soften the external discipline. However, this system does not guarantee a minimum wage and the determination of the price of work is less easy than in the case of time rate wages. This proposal aims to cover this hole for the second half of the 18th century and the 19th century taking some regions of Spain (provinces of Navarre and Toledo) as a laboratory. We offer some series of piece rate wages for several agricultural tasks (olive harvest, vineyard plantation and harvest, grain cleaning, mowing…) and contrast their evolution with that of the time rate wages and the cost of living.

Real Wages adjusted by purchasing power parity in Latin America circa 1890-1940

Luis Bértola y Carolina Román

The paper presents a new set of purchasing power parities (PPPs) to adjust real wages for the Southern Cone Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay). The PPP estimates are calculated relative to Great Britain and are based on consumption baskets in two benchmark years: around the turn of the century and the interwar years. We focus on discussion of the methodology used to develop equivalent consumption baskets, which is restricted to food and housing. A thorough description of the method and sources is provided as well as a characterization of housing for each of the countries in our sample. Finally, we use the new estimates to compare the living standards of these Latin American countries.

The paper presents a new set of purchasing power parities (PPPs) to adjust real wages for the Southern Cone Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay). The PPP estimates are calculated relative to Great Britain and are based on consumption baskets in two benchmark years: around the turn of the century and the interwar years. We focus on discussion of the methodology used to develop equivalent consumption baskets, which is restricted to food and housing. A thorough description of the method and sources is provided as well as a characterization of housing for each of the countries in our sample. Finally, we use the new estimates to compare the living standards of these Latin American countries.

Evolución de precios y salarios y el nivel de vida de los trabajadores mexicanos entre dos periodos: 1890-1910 y 1920-1940" El impacto económico y social de la Revolución Mexicana

Humberto Morales Moreno y Miguel Reyes Hernández

El objetivo de esta comunicación es dar a conocer resultados preliminares de una investigación de largo plazo sobre la evolución de precios y salarios de los trabajadores mexicanos en un proceso histórico de ruptura: la Revolución Mexicana de 1910-1917. Tradicionalmente se ha afirmado en la literatura que el parteaguas revolucionario de México significó retomar el debate de la cuestión social al ámbito jurídico de la nueva Constitución de 1917. Como consecuencia, los derechos laborales y económicos de los trabajadores fueron materia de protección garantista que debió impactar sus niveles de vida con posterioridad a dicho ordenamiento. En el ensayo comparamos los niveles de vida antes y después de la Revolución en su primera etapa y evaluamos hasta qué punto dichos niveles aumentaron como consecuencia más del papel de los sindicatos y las leyes de protección constitucional, que a un cambio de modelo económico de bienestar o a presumibles aumentos de...

El objetivo de esta comunicación es dar a conocer resultados preliminares de una investigación de largo plazo sobre la evolución de precios y salarios de los trabajadores mexicanos en un proceso histórico de ruptura: la Revolución Mexicana de 1910-1917. Tradicionalmente se ha afirmado en la literatura que el parteaguas revolucionario de México significó retomar el debate de la cuestión social al ámbito jurídico de la nueva Constitución de 1917. Como consecuencia, los derechos laborales y económicos de los trabajadores fueron materia de protección garantista que debió impactar sus niveles de vida con posterioridad a dicho ordenamiento. En el ensayo comparamos los niveles de vida antes y después de la Revolución en su primera etapa y evaluamos hasta qué punto dichos niveles aumentaron como consecuencia más del papel de los sindicatos y las leyes de protección constitucional, que a un cambio de modelo económico de bienestar o a presumibles aumentos de la productividad de los factores.

Incomes and income inequality in northwestern Italy, ca. 1500-1800

Guido Alfani

In the last few years, economic inequality in preindustrial Italy has been the object of a considerable amount of research. Most of it has focused on wealth inequality, and now we have good-quality reconstructions of wealth distributions for a range of Italian pre-unification states, including the Sabaudian State in the Northwest, the Republic of Venice in the Northeast, the Florentine State in the Centre and (part of the) Kingdom of Naples in the South. Most of this research has been produced by the ERC-funded project EINITE, Economic Inequality across Italy and Europe 1300-1800 (www.dondena.unibocconi.it/EINITE). We know much less, though, about income inequality. Even if arguably long-term trends in wealth inequality are informative about those in income inequality too (as in preindustrial, mostly-agrarian societies land was the main source of income, as well as the main component of wealth), it would be interesting and relevant to compare it to some more...

In the last few years, economic inequality in preindustrial Italy has been the object of a considerable amount of research. Most of it has focused on wealth inequality, and now we have good-quality reconstructions of wealth distributions for a range of Italian pre-unification states, including the Sabaudian State in the Northwest, the Republic of Venice in the Northeast, the Florentine State in the Centre and (part of the) Kingdom of Naples in the South. Most of this research has been produced by the ERC-funded project EINITE, Economic Inequality across Italy and Europe 1300-1800 (www.dondena.unibocconi.it/EINITE). We know much less, though, about income inequality. Even if arguably long-term trends in wealth inequality are informative about those in income inequality too (as in preindustrial, mostly-agrarian societies land was the main source of income, as well as the main component of wealth), it would be interesting and relevant to compare it to some more direct estimates of income inequality. This paper will make such an attempt for the “Italian” part of the Sabaudian State (nowadays Piedmont). Beginning with an exceptionally informative source dated 1612 and with already-published wealth distributions, I will make use of a new database about incomes and occupational structures during 1500-1800 to reconstruct income distributions and to measure income inequality during the early modern period

2nd half

Numeracy, heights, and inequality in late eighteenth-century Mexico

Andrés Calderón-Fernández, Rafael Dobado-González y Alfredo García-Hiernaux

In a recent paper (Dobado and García-Hiernaux, 2017, Economics and Human Biology), the determinants of the heights of nearly 20,000 non-Indian individuals resident in 24 localities scattered across central regions in late eighteenth-century Mexico were examined. Among other results, it was found that spatial differences in biological welfare were more important than the dissimilarities existing across ethnicities and socioeconomic groups. In our opinion, this finding is at odds with the mainstream view on inequality in pre-independent Hispanic America. If our interpretation of an abundant literature is correct, large differences in biological living standards between españoles and other ethnicities (castizos, mestizos and mulatos) ought to be found. Surprisingly enough, no satisfactory numerical evidence in support of the wide-spread assumption that attributes particularly high levels of inequality to pre-independent Spanish America has been shown yet. Taking a step forward along our revisionist research program, we use numeracy, estimated by means of age...

In a recent paper (Dobado and García-Hiernaux, 2017, Economics and Human Biology), the determinants of the heights of nearly 20,000 non-Indian individuals resident in 24 localities scattered across central regions in late eighteenth-century Mexico were examined. Among other results, it was found that spatial differences in biological welfare were more important than the dissimilarities existing across ethnicities and socioeconomic groups. In our opinion, this finding is at odds with the mainstream view on inequality in pre-independent Hispanic America. If our interpretation of an abundant literature is correct, large differences in biological living standards between españoles and other ethnicities (castizos, mestizos and mulatos) ought to be found. Surprisingly enough, no satisfactory numerical evidence in support of the wide-spread assumption that attributes particularly high levels of inequality to pre-independent Spanish America has been shown yet. Taking a step forward along our revisionist research program, we use numeracy, estimated by means of age heaping, for studying inequality in human capital. We analyze different dimensions of inequality (regional, ethnic –including Indians–, sexual and socioeconomic) in human capital formation in late pre-independent Mexico City. Our main contribution to the existing literature on numeracy in Spanish America consists of expanding our initial data base by adding several tens of thousands of residents in Mexico City by the early 1790s. In contrast with the previous data, our new sample includes males and females and all ethnic categories, Indians not being an exception. The same happens with a smaller sample –more than ten thousand– of inhabitants of Oaxaca in the mid-1770s. The hypothesis leading this ongoing research is that not every dimension of inequality was as extremely high as conventional wisdom claims. Our preliminary results seem to confirm this hypothesis. Some of them are surprising, such as the higher numeracy levels found among women of some ethnic groups when compared to their male counterparts. The joint examination of heights and heaping for the non-Indian males included in the sample used by Dobado and García-Hiernaux (2017) permits to test for the relationship between biological welfare and human capital accumulation.

Physical stature of men in nineteenth century Chile: evidence from military records

Manuel Llorca Jaña, Juan Navarrete-Montalvo, Roberto Araya-Valenzuela y Federico Droller

The average height of a population has been recently taken as a good indicator of biological welfare, and therefore of standards of living and economic development. This article provides the first available series for Chile, providing the evolution of the average height of Chilean soldiers (male) born from the 1730s to the 1980s, but concentrating in the nineteenth century. This sample can be safely taken as a good proxy of the average height of Chilean male population for the period under study. Having analysed our data, our main conclusions are: (i) around mid-eighteenth century the average height of Chileans was rather high if compared to Chile itself, as well as to other countries of the region and Europe; (ii) during the nineteenth century the average height of Chileans declined during a long spell, (iii) in the twentieth century there was an important increase in the average male height, but in...

The average height of a population has been recently taken as a good indicator of biological welfare, and therefore of standards of living and economic development. This article provides the first available series for Chile, providing the evolution of the average height of Chilean soldiers (male) born from the 1730s to the 1980s, but concentrating in the nineteenth century. This sample can be safely taken as a good proxy of the average height of Chilean male population for the period under study. Having analysed our data, our main conclusions are: (i) around mid-eighteenth century the average height of Chileans was rather high if compared to Chile itself, as well as to other countries of the region and Europe; (ii) during the nineteenth century the average height of Chileans declined during a long spell, (iii) in the twentieth century there was an important increase in the average male height, but in the developed world height increased faster than in Chile. The paper explain in details the determinants of height evolution during the nineteenth century, focusing in economic policy, dietary, consumption and social policies.

Textile consumption in Seville, 1760-1827

Isabel Bartolomé Rodriguez, Manuel González Mariscal y Emilio Pérez Romero

The research on living standards in pre-industrial Europe based in real wages needs to improve the Consumer Price Indexes. Thus, it would be important to know which were the changes in the components of the baskets of goods in the long run. In this paper we analyse textile consumption in Seville from 1760 to 1827 using the accounting books of the Colegio de San Telmo. This institution, related to the Atlantic commercial apogee in Seville, was in charge of educating orphan boys, who were trained to become graduated sailors. The young orphans were provided not only with accommodation and food but also with a complete set of garments and bed clothing. The institution accounts let us know the quantity and quality of the fabrics. Besides, evidence in the prices of both clothes and making is also available. The image that emerges from these data is one of extraordinary diversity of...

The research on living standards in pre-industrial Europe based in real wages needs to improve the Consumer Price Indexes. Thus, it would be important to know which were the changes in the components of the baskets of goods in the long run. In this paper we analyse textile consumption in Seville from 1760 to 1827 using the accounting books of the Colegio de San Telmo. This institution, related to the Atlantic commercial apogee in Seville, was in charge of educating orphan boys, who were trained to become graduated sailors. The young orphans were provided not only with accommodation and food but also with a complete set of garments and bed clothing. The institution accounts let us know the quantity and quality of the fabrics. Besides, evidence in the prices of both clothes and making is also available. The image that emerges from these data is one of extraordinary diversity of both fabrics and geographical origins. Unlike what it was expected in a declining commercial town, the picture is not an static one, but it comprises novelties and innovations in dressing and bedding along the 18th century

Consumption and standard of living in Buenos Aires. Consumer Basket and income between the end of colonial age and the first half of XIX Century

Daniel Santilli

Our first works about the standards of living in Buenos Aires for a few years of the 19th Century showed high levels of consumption, in international comparative terms. In this case we intend to expand the sample since the last decades of the colonial era until the middle of the following century, in order to observe changes in the content of the consumer basket and in the standards of living of the population in a stage with profound economic and political transformations in the region.

Our first works about the standards of living in Buenos Aires for a few years of the 19th Century showed high levels of consumption, in international comparative terms. In this case we intend to expand the sample since the last decades of the colonial era until the middle of the following century, in order to observe changes in the content of the consumer basket and in the standards of living of the population in a stage with profound economic and political transformations in the region.

What if Bare Bones Baskets Were Not Fixed?

Tommy E. Murphy, Tommy

Following the Great Divergence debate of the early 2000s, there has been a renewed interest in assessing the comparative evolution of standards of living in the long run. Various scholars engaged in the discussion have advocated the construction and use of welfare ratios to learn about well-being in the past. One common criticism of this approach, however, is that baskets in the long run are not entirely comparable because the ‘cheapest’ basket changes over time. Using data from colonial Latin America and Spain (and comparing with other places around the world), this project looks into the possibility of constructing baskets that fulfil the biological requirements for survival, but are endogenously adjusted to the fluctuation of prices. These ‘dynamic’, arguably cheapest, baskets are then compared with the traditional bare bones basket widely used in the literature.

Following the Great Divergence debate of the early 2000s, there has been a renewed interest in assessing the comparative evolution of standards of living in the long run. Various scholars engaged in the discussion have advocated the construction and use of welfare ratios to learn about well-being in the past. One common criticism of this approach, however, is that baskets in the long run are not entirely comparable because the ‘cheapest’ basket changes over time. Using data from colonial Latin America and Spain (and comparing with other places around the world), this project looks into the possibility of constructing baskets that fulfil the biological requirements for survival, but are endogenously adjusted to the fluctuation of prices. These ‘dynamic’, arguably cheapest, baskets are then compared with the traditional bare bones basket widely used in the literature.

Height and Inequality in the Modern Spain. A Long-Term Perspective

Antonio D. Cámara, José M. Martínez-Carrión, Javier Puche y Josep-M Ramon

The paper examines Spaniards' average height as an indicator of biological standard of living and health inequality. We analyzes the changes in height by birth cohort in light of other indicators of living standards, such as life expectancy, infant mortality, education, intake of energy and nutrients, consumption, and GDP per capita. Then, we explores the associations between those changes and inequality in the long run. We uses the coefficient of variation (CV) of height as a measure of inequality. Our empirical results indicate that height inequality is negatively correlated with average height. The highest values of inequality of the heights are observed in the central decades of the nineteenth century. The inequality decrease from the 1880's cohorts and rebounds again slightly during Franco's autarky. Finally, we compare the evolution of inequality in Spain with global and regional trends.

The paper examines Spaniards' average height as an indicator of biological standard of living and health inequality. We analyzes the changes in height by birth cohort in light of other indicators of living standards, such as life expectancy, infant mortality, education, intake of energy and nutrients, consumption, and GDP per capita. Then, we explores the associations between those changes and inequality in the long run. We uses the coefficient of variation (CV) of height as a measure of inequality. Our empirical results indicate that height inequality is negatively correlated with average height. The highest values of inequality of the heights are observed in the central decades of the nineteenth century. The inequality decrease from the 1880's cohorts and rebounds again slightly during Franco's autarky. Finally, we compare the evolution of inequality in Spain with global and regional trends.

Height and biological standard of living in the Iberian Peninsula: the anthropometric trends in one of the poorest region of La Raya (19th and 20th centuries)

Antonio M. Linares Luján y Francisco M. Parejo-Moruno

The present paper proposal intends to follow the path traced in Spain by the prolific and thriving anthropometric historiography to know, through the construction of long-term series of stature, the evolution of the biological standard of living in Spanish Extremadura, one of the most depressed areas of all the Iberian Peninsula and, without a doubt, one of the least developed regions of the Spanish-Portuguese border (La Raya or A Raia). The research we propose, based on military sources of thirty five Extremadura's villages, also tries to put into historical perspective the explanatory power of some of the hypotheses commonly used by international anthropometric historiography, comparing the experience of the urban and the rural world, analyzing dynamics of other non-anthropometric variables such as infant mortality or life expectancy, and studying the differences that, in terms of biologic living standard, could generate in the Contemporary History of Extremadura the educational level of...

The present paper proposal intends to follow the path traced in Spain by the prolific and thriving anthropometric historiography to know, through the construction of long-term series of stature, the evolution of the biological standard of living in Spanish Extremadura, one of the most depressed areas of all the Iberian Peninsula and, without a doubt, one of the least developed regions of the Spanish-Portuguese border (La Raya or A Raia). The research we propose, based on military sources of thirty five Extremadura's villages, also tries to put into historical perspective the explanatory power of some of the hypotheses commonly used by international anthropometric historiography, comparing the experience of the urban and the rural world, analyzing dynamics of other non-anthropometric variables such as infant mortality or life expectancy, and studying the differences that, in terms of biologic living standard, could generate in the Contemporary History of Extremadura the educational level of the regional society, the geographical mobility of the population or the belonging to a determined professional group.

The Impact of Net Nutrition on Educational Achievement: Argentina 1885-1960

Amílcar Challú y Ricardo Salvatore

This study investigates the impact of net nutrition (proxied by mean stature) on the educational achievements of Argentines. We use a large sample of prisoners from Buenos Aires province covering the cohorts 1885 to 1960. This is a particularly rich data that provides information about heights, occupation, years of schooling, parent’s national origins, and other indicators of socio-economic conditions. We find that early nutrition had a significant impact on the levels of schooling attained by prisoners. Better nutrition (taller prisoners) improves educational performance, in a systematic and sustained manner. At the end of the paper, we speculate about competing explanations of this systematic relationship between heights and schooling.

This study investigates the impact of net nutrition (proxied by mean stature) on the educational achievements of Argentines. We use a large sample of prisoners from Buenos Aires province covering the cohorts 1885 to 1960. This is a particularly rich data that provides information about heights, occupation, years of schooling, parent’s national origins, and other indicators of socio-economic conditions. We find that early nutrition had a significant impact on the levels of schooling attained by prisoners. Better nutrition (taller prisoners) improves educational performance, in a systematic and sustained manner. At the end of the paper, we speculate about competing explanations of this systematic relationship between heights and schooling.