Biological Welfare during the Economic Development of the Basque Country: Biscay, 1850-2000


  • Pedro M. Pérez Castroviejo Universidad del País Vasco



Biological welfare, human height, standard of living, Biscay


This paper analyses the biological welfare in the context of industrialisation and economic growth in Biscay. It explores the changes in the welfare of young Basques from a sample of six towns, three of them agricultural and the other three industrial. Although the average height had a rising trend in the long term, its evolution was irregular due to the influence of environmental and socioeconomic factors. The decline of height is particularly evident at three stages: firstly, during the pre-industrial boom and once the process had been initiated in the 1880s; secondly, from the end of the First World War until 1925 and, finally, during the years of the Civil War and its aftermath. Moreover, this paper reveals a correlation between health, real wages and height, and it also pays special attention to body mass index (BMI) in order to assess the degree of robustness of the Basque recruits throughout the period under study.