Germans, Danes and the Dutch are standing tall today after coming out top in a European height survey.
Men from these countries grew at the fastest rate over the century to 1980, according to a new paper published in Britain by Oxford Economic Papers.
Males from the Netherlands increased in height by 1.41cm per decade between 1871 and 1980, with Germany (1.25cm), Denmark (1.24cm) and Spain (1.19cm) next in the list. The slowest growers were Ireland (0.80cm), followed by France (0.91cm), Great Britain (0.93cm) and Norway (also 0.93cm).
Overall, the average size of men in Europe grew by 11cm between 1871 and 1980, topping 1m 78cm.
Professor Timothy Hatton, professor of economics at the University of Essex, said: “Increases in human stature are a key indicator of improvements in the average health of populations. The evidence suggests that the improving disease environment, as reflected in the fall in infant mortality, is the single most important factor driving the increase in height. The link between infant mortality and height has already been demonstrated by a number of studies.”
The study also found a “striking” trend in northern Europe, where it found a “distinct quickening” in growth in the first half of the 20th century. Academics thought this of particular note because it came before the “wide implementation of major breakthroughs in modern medicine and national health services”.
Other factors cited for men getting taller included: increased income, better living conditions, better health and education, and better social services.
The study drew on statistics for men from 15 European countries, using information from the height of military conscripts for the earlier data.