Biological standard of living; Switzerland; Economic History; Birth weight
Butie Claire, Matthes Katarina L., Hösli Irene, Floris Joël, Staub Kaspar (2020), Impact of World War 1 on placenta weight, birth weight and other anthropometric parameters of neonatal health, in Placenta
FlorisJoël, KaiserLaurent, StaubKaspar, WoitekUlrich (2019), Survival of the weakest? Culling evidence from the 1918 flu pandemic
, Working paper series / Department of Economics , University of Zurich.
Koepke Nikola, Floris Joël, Pfister Christian, Rühli Frank J, Staub Kaspar (2018), Ladies first: Female and male adult height in Switzerland, 1770-1930., in Economics and human biology
, 29, 76-87.
Staub Kaspar (2016), Der vermessene menschliche Körper als Spiegel der Ernährungs- und Gesundheitsverhältnisse am Ende des Ersten Weltkrieges, in Segesser Daniel Marc, Pfister Christian, Krämer Daniel (ed.), Schwabe, Basel, 285-305.
FlorisJoël, StaubKaspar, WoitekUlrich (2016), The benefits of intervention: birth weights in Basle 1912-1920
, Working paper series / Department of Economics, University of Zurich.
A newborn's body size and further development is considerably inter-related with the nutritional status and socio-economic conditions of the mother during pregnancy. On the level of a population or its subgroups, birth weight is a useful anthropometric measure to analyse women's living standard and the short-term environmental impacts during pregnancy. This is particularly the case in a historical context, when other data sources for the standard of living are lacking. We plan to analyze data from the birth records at the university maternity hospital (Frauenspital) of the canton Basle-Stadt in the period 1888-1939. The individual records (N>27000) we will transcribe allow to control for the essential medical determinants of birth weight known from the literature. In addition, we have information on the socio-economic background of each family (occupation of the parents, residential address).In economic and anthropometric history, average adult height has been established since the 1970s to assess human well-being. We will link the birth records of boys with the outcome of their medical and pedagogical examination as young men during mandatory conscription 19 years later. This enables us to analyze the relationship between weight of boys at birth, their socio-economic background and their educational achievement, height, health and physical fitness at conscription.Our project is the first in Switzerland using birth weight as an anthropometric indicator to measure the standard of living and social inequality in the past. The existing literature on the interrelationship between biological measures and the standard of living has mainly relied on male adult height from military recruitment records. Thus, compared to the biological standard of living of men, measuring women's well-being has remained a widely neglected field. Our study will help to shed light on the question to what extent the female biological standard of living (measured by birth weight of the child and adult height of the mother) corresponds to already existing evidence indicated by standard of living measures such as real wages, male average height, infant mortality, female participation in the labor market, or life expectancy in the city of Basle during the observation period.