Analysis of a sample of around 4,600 women born between the 1860s and the 1990s finds that the height of adult females increased by about 5 cm, primarily from the 1860s to the 1880s and during the second half of the twentieth century—representing the greatest known improvement in women’s biological welfare in Chilean history. Chilean women have never been as tall as they are today. The secular height increase was higher for men than for women, but only slightly. The increasing sexual dimorphism in stature since the 1920s (achieving its highest value ever during the 1990s) suggests that male stature is more sensitive than female stature to changes in environmental conditions. Adult female heights also correlate with positive gradients in literacy and occupational status, and negative height differentials are in evidence between the native (Mapuche) population and the population with European ancestry.

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