We analyze the proximate determinants of the biological standard of living from a global perspective, namely high-quality nutrition and the disease environment during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Until the mid-twentieth century, the local availability of cattle, meat, and milk per capita and the local disease environment mainly determined the stature of the population – and, by implication, how long they lived and how healthy they were. During the late twentieth century, the trade of agricultural products and health-promoting technologies increased in relative importance; hence, the local availabilities became less decisive in explaining height differences.
Baten, J., & Blum, M. (2014). Why are you tall while others are short? Agricultural production and other proximate determinants of global heights. European Review of Economic History, 18(2), 144-165. https://doi.org/10.1093/ereh/heu003