julio 28, 2023
Autor: WID.world

The biological cost of the economic transition in Poland

Variation in height has two components: genetic and environmental. Genetic factors explain 70% of the variation in height. The rest of the variation is driven by living conditions. Therefore, body height is often regarded as an indicator of economic progress.

This paper provides the first estimates of the height trends in Poland based on the administrative dataset covering the whole population between 1920 and 1996. It shows the biological cost of the economic transition in Poland. Key findings are:

  • Over the period, average height of men and women increased (10.15 cm and 8.18 cm)
  • Height increase was highest in the first decades after the Second World War in a period of rapid economic and social changes (land reform,  nationalization of industry and trade, education boom)
  • In the 1980s, body height stagnated during a period of Martial Law (1981-83), economic crisis, and transition to a market economy in 1989
  • Post-transition unemployment had negative effects on body height
  • Height declined in municipalities where there were State Agricultural Farms


  • Marcin Wroński


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