Climate and its Impact on the Biological Standard of Living in North-East, Centre-West and South Europe during the Last 2000 Years


  • Nikola Koepke University of Tuebingen
  • Joerg Baten CESifo


We argue that historical climatology is crucial for understanding human living standards, for which anthropometric indices are an important proxy variable, given the biological relationship with quality and quantity of nutrition. For example, did climatic change cause the demographic catastrophes of the 14th and 17th centuries, as Galloway (1986) argued (see e.g. also Kelly, n.y.)? This study uses recent estimates of human stature over the last two millennia in three different European regions and compares them directly with estimates of temperature. We employ both a climatic index based on a number of series, and a recent series by Mann and Jones (2004). The basic finding is that overall, the impact of temperature is economically, but not statistically significant. Starting in the 9th century statistical significance is given, however, when population density exceeds a previously unknown level. It seems that population pressure made the European populations, especially north of the Alps, more vulnerable to climatic shocks.






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