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Heyberger, Laurent, Santé et développement économique en France au xixe siècle. Essai d’histoire anthropométrique

Paris, L’Harmattan, 2003.
Cormac Ó Gráda
p. 412

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XIXe siècle
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1Laurent Heyberger’s brief study (105 pages of text, plus appendices) represents a modest but very worthwhile contribution to anthropometric history. As he notes, this is a field now dominated by Anglophone cliometricians, but it was both pioneered and revived by French scholars. The study offers both a useful summary of recent literature in the field and a contribution to that literature. Focusing on the first half of the nineteenth century, and using the mean heights of military recruits, Heyberger shows that (i) salaries and heights tend to move together in France; (ii) economic conditions around the time of birth influence adult height, with the implication that there is little compensation up later for losses incurred early in life; (iii) there is some evidence of regional convergence in mean heights and therefore, by extension, in health and welfare, over time. These are useful contributions to a burgeoning literature and deserve to be cited. The author could have been better served by his publisher: the nineteenth-century tables reproduced at the back of the book (pp. 120-127) are difficult to read, and the reproduction of the maps also leaves something to be desired.

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Cormac Ó Gráda, « Heyberger, Laurent, Santé et développement économique en France au xixe siècle. Essai d’histoire anthropométrique », Histoire & mesure [En ligne], XVIII - 3/4 | 2003, mis en ligne le 04 avril 2007, consulté le 18 février 2019. URL :

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