Abstract

The threat of a Malthusian crisis in the late-eighteenth-century Habsburg monarchy is evident from the decline in physical stature of the male population. This evidence is consistent with diminishing returns to labor on account of the acceleration in population growth, with a concomitant decline in real wages. An alternative hypothesis—that heights decreased, not because nutrient consumption fell, but because work effort, and hence energy expenditures, increased, leaving less calories available for the biological growth process—is found to be unsubstantiated on the basis of the available evidence.

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