Percentiles of Modern Height Standards for Use in Historical Research

31 Pages Posted: 6 May 2000 Last revised: 14 Jan 2011

See all articles by Richard H. Steckel

Richard H. Steckel

Ohio State University (OSU) - Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: October 1995


Percentiles of modern height standards are useful in historical research because children differ systematically in height by age, and differences in growth potential exist by gender and might exist across some ethnic groups. Modern height standards are needed to make relative comparisons of nutritional status in these circumstances. The standards are also used to assess progress or deprivation against a level that we know is attainable under good environmental circumstances. Historical researchers in need of modern height standards encounter several problems, including the choice of standards, manipulation of those standards to meet the requirements of historical data, and calculation of percentiles. Following a discussion of criteria used in selecting standards, which lead to the choice of NCHS heights as a reference, the paper gives percentiles calculated in line with the requirements of historical data. Results are given in centimeters and inches and by age at last birthday and age at nearest birthday.

Suggested Citation

Steckel, Richard H., Percentiles of Modern Height Standards for Use in Historical Research (October 1995). NBER Working Paper No. h0075, Available at SSRN:

Richard H. Steckel (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Economics ( email )

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