The physical stature of Jewish men in Poland in the second half of the 19th century

Econ Hum Biol. 2011 Mar;9(2):203-10. doi: 10.1016/j.ehb.2010.11.003. Epub 2010 Dec 7.


Since 1843 Jews inhabiting the Kingdom of Poland were obliged to serve in the Russian army and therefore were examined by draft boards on a par with Christians. We explore the trends in the height of recruits by religion and place of birth. Basing on samples drawn from 21-year-old conscripts born between 1845 and 1892 we find that Jewish conscripts were shorter than the Christians by 2.5 cm at the beginning of the period under scrutiny and the difference exceeded 4 cm in the 1890s. The height of Jewish conscripts inhabiting provincial towns declined in the late 1880s and in the early 1890s was about the same as in the 1840s, i.e. 161 cm. The socioeconomic crisis of provincial towns caused a massive migration to Warsaw and abroad as well. In the 1870s the stature of Warsaw and provincial Jews was similar, but in the early 1890s men from Warsaw were by 2 cm taller than provincial Jews. The height gap mirrors the difference in the standard of living between Warsaw and provincial towns.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Body Height / physiology*
  • Databases, Factual
  • History, 19th Century
  • Humans
  • Jews*
  • Male
  • Military Personnel
  • Poland
  • Young Adult