Industrialization and health in historical perspective

David A. Leon and Gill Walt

in Poverty, Inequality, and Health

Published in print November 2000 | ISBN: 9780192631961
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191723599 | DOI:
Industrialization and health in historical perspective

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This chapter examines the relationship between industrialization and health, focusing on recent progress in the field made by scholars in comparative studies of eight countries: the UK, US, the Netherlands, France, Sweden, Germany, Australia, and Japan. While using traditional measures, such as per capita Gross National Product and life expectancy, the chapter also employs a newly forged data source: anthropometric measures, particularly human stature gathered from military records. Height data provide important insights intro nutritional status and health during childhood and adolescence. A combination of general tendencies and idiosycratic factors affected health during the industrial revolutions of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Urbanization was a major contributor to ill-health within countries studied in Europe, in the Pacific, and within the US. Height was inversely correlated with degree or urbanization across countries, and rising urbanization led to health deterioration, especially in England, Australia, and Japan.

Keywords: industrialization; public health; height; urbanization; life expectancy; anthropometric measures; stature

Chapter.  6798 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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