Today’s Solutions: May 25, 2024

… “the better a country’s social system, the taller its population”

Marco Visscher | September 2004 issue
Hold on a minute, first the figures.
“The tallest people in the world are the Dutch. Then come the Scandinavians. Other socially-minded Europeans are growing fast.”
But isn’t the average height increasing in every country?
“No. Take the United States, which topped the rankings for the tallest people for 200 years. Now the average American is 6.5 centimetres shorter than the average Dutch person. The average height of Americans hasn’t increased over the past 40 years.”
Because of the arrival of shorter immigrants from Asia and Latin America?
“They’re not included in my statistics. And besides, a Peruvian who grows up in the U.S. gets taller on average than he would have had he stayed in Peru.”
So how do you explain the relative shortness of Americans?
“The lack of a welfare state.”
So a welfare state makes people taller?
“Yes. It’s a system that takes people’s biological needs into account. In country with tall people, incomes are better distributed and health care is available to everyone. This enables the body to develop optimally: organs reach their optimal size and cells take on the healthiest structure. That process starts in the womb, which is why it’s no wonder the Dutch take top ranking. Nowhere in the world is there a better safety net and pre-natal care for expectant mothers.”
John Komlos is a professor in economic history at Munich University’s economics department.

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