Bones of contention: The political economy of height inequality

Carles Boix, Frances Rosenbluth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

Human osteological data provide a rich, still-to-be-mined source of information about the distribution of nutrition and, by extension, the distribution of political power and economic wealth in societies of long ago. On the basis of data we have collected and analyzed on societies ranging from foraging communities to the ancient Egyptian and modern European monarchies, we find that the shift from hunting and gathering to complex fishing techniques and to labor-intensive agriculture opened up inequalities that had discernible effects on human health and stature. But we also find that political institutions intervened decisively in the distribution of resources within societies. Political institutions appear to be shaped not only by economic factors but also by military technology and vulnerability to invasion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Volume108
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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