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ANU Research School of Economics presents


Very long-term trends in health on four continents: North America, South America, Europe and Asia


Goldsmith Public Lecture


12th February 2020
5.30 pm - 7.45 pm


T2, Cultural Centre Kambri (ANU Building 153), The Australian National University, Acton ACT 2601


Professor Fichard H. Steckel, Ohio State University



Economic historians have employed numerous measures of social performance to understand how political, technological, and institutional changes gave rise to the modern world. In recent decades anthropometric measures have proved useful because they are abundant and in many countries or regions can be tabulated for longer periods of time than traditional measures such as income, wages, or wealth.

Here I report progress on the Global History of Health, a large project that extends research undertaken with the more familiar anthropometric measures. The project uses seven measures of health derived from the skeletal remains from individuals who lived as a long as 4,000 years ago. The presentation explains the functional consequences of each measure, shows the geographic distribution of the evidence, and describes a technique for distilling the evidence into a summary measure called the health index. The presentation highlights several interesting results.


Richard H. Steckel is a Distinguished University Professor at the Ohio State University and a pioneer of anthropometric history, a field that employs height, weight, and even skeletal remains to understand the evolution of human health. He has published 5 books and over 100 articles in major peer-reviewed journals, and his research has been discussed as a feature article in TIME. Reports on his work have also appeared in Science, The Economist, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Der Spiegel, NPR, Dutch radio, and other major news outlets. He has been invited to speak over 50 times in the past decade at conferences and universities, including an appearance as plenary speaker at the 2011 DOHaD (Developmental Origins of Health and Disease) conference. Two major strands of his research include the health of African Americans under slavery and freedom, and the evolution of health since the Neolithic Revolution.


Image: pixabay

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