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Title: Studies in historical living standards and health : integrating the household and children into historical measures of living standards and health
Author: Schneider, Eric B.
ISNI:       0000 0004 1910 1514
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This dissertation attempts to integrate the household and children more fluidly into measures of well-being in the past. In part one, I develop a Monte Carlo simulation to test some of the assumptions of Allen’s welfare ratio methodology. These included his assumptions that family size was constant over time, that there were no female-headed households and that women and children did not participate in the labour force. After all of the adjustments, it appears that Allen’s welfare ratios underestimate the welfare ratios of a demographically representative group of families, especially if women and children’s labour force participation is included. However, the predicted distributions also highlight the struggles of agricultural labourers, who are given separate consideration. Even the average agricultural labourers’ family with women and children working would have had to rely of self- provisioning, gleaning, poor relief or the extension of the working year to make ends meet at the poorest point in their family life cycle. Part two adjusts Floud et al.’s estimates of calorie availability in the English economy from 1700 to 1909 for the costs of digestion, pregnancy and lactation. Taken together, these three additional costs reduced the amount calories available by around 15 per cent in 1700 but only by 5 per cent in 1909 because of the changing composition of the English diet. Part three presents a new adaptive framework for studying changes in children’s growth patterns over time and a new methodology, longitudinal growth studies, for measuring gender disparities in health in the past. An adaptive framework for understanding growth provides a more parsimonious explanation for the vast catch-up growth achieved by slave children in the antebellum American South. The slave children were only able to achieve this catch-up growth because they were programmed for a tall height trajectory by relatively good conditions in utero. Finally, impoverished girls experienced greater catch-up growth than boys in two schools in late-nineteenth century Boston, USA and early-twentieth century London, suggesting that girls were deprived relative to boys before entering these institutions.
Supervisor: Allen, Robert C.; Oxley, Deborah Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Economic and Social History ; Economic history ; Development economics ; History of Britain and Europe ; History of North America ; Living Standards ; Health History ; Real Wages ; Family Income ; Monte Carlo Simulation ; Energy Cost Accounting ; American Slaves ; Children's Growth