New research from Timothy Hatton, Professor of Economics at the University of Essex, shows that the average height of European men has grown in just over a century from 5ft 4in to 5ft 8in, an increase of 4 inches. He compared figures from the 1870s to those for 1980. More figures are available for men because they were measured for conscription.
The growth cannot be attributed to genetic section over such a short time-frame, and is being attributed to environmental factors such as better nutrition and rising health standards. What happens to children in their early years is a big determinant of future height, and much-reduced infant mortality rates point to fewer people having their future height reduced by serious childhood diseases. Similarly, good nutrition in their early years enables adults to grow taller than they might otherwise have managed.
I wonder if anyone has told architects to build houses with doorways larger than they were made a century ago? I wonder similarly if chair manufacturers are placing their seats rather higher off the ground to allow for the extended legs that now sit down at them? Many people have taken increased width into account, but what about height? I know that some car-makers have redesigned their seats to allow for the fact that many of their drivers and passengers are wider than they used to be, but I wonder if thought is being given by other designers to the implications of taller men? It will be longer arms and legs as well as a greater overall height. I guess it’s easier with bicycles because you just raise the seat (although you really need a larger frame), and easy with clothes because you just buy larger sizes – until you end up at High and Mighty.
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