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The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, 1700-2100: Europe, America, and the Third World (Cambridge Studies in Population, Economy and Society in Past Time) Paperback – May 17, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0521004886 ISBN-10: 0521004888 Edition: First Edition (US) First Printing

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The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, 1700-2100: Europe, America, and the Third World (Cambridge Studies in Population, Economy and Society in Past Time) + The Changing Body: Health, Nutrition, and Human Development in the Western World since 1700 (New Approaches to Economic and Social History) + Explaining Long-Term Trends in Health and Longevity
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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Studies in Population, Economy and Society in Past Time (Book 38)
  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; First Edition (US) First Printing edition (May 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521004888
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521004886
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #392,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"If economic history is to fulfill the promise inherent in its subject matter, it must add the dimension of time to economics. Bob Fogel's pathbreaking study does just that and in doing so not only revises our understanding of the past but provides a thoughtful guide to policy in the future."
Douglas C. North

"In his usual comprehensive and perceptive way, Professor Fogel has assembled and synthesized a vast set of data which bring out the radical transformation of human health and longevity. He has set this work in the context of general economic growth and has shown the inadequacy of the usual measures of growth. He also calls attention to the changes in the economic system implied by the growing importance of health expenditures and their benefits."
Kenneth J. Arrow

" Escape from Hunger is without a doubt one of Fogel's masterworks. Written in an accessible style, it is ideal for use in higher-level undergraduate and graduate courses."
EH.net

"Although this is a "little" book, just 111 pages in the main body, it is densely packed with deep-mine data and illuminating higher-order concepts derived from a lifetime of concentration on economic development. Robert William Fogel's The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, 1700-2100 is that rare species of research - longitudinal study. Unlike the cross-sectional snapshots whose importance often quickly fades, there is gold in these data mines that is so precious because it is so difficult to find and so hard to get to. It is must reading for those in human biology, medicine and the social sciences who are interested in the issues surrounding human adaptation. It will also appeal to life-long learners drawn to the interface between the biology, economics and history of the human condition."
The Midwest Book Review

Book Description

Nobel laureate Robert Fogel's compelling new study examines health, nutrition and technology over the last three centuries and beyond. Chronic malnutrition is one reason why people in the past had smaller, weakerbodies and lived shorter lives than people do today. When better agriculture began to produce more food, people began to get bigger, healthier and to live longer. This process has contributed to economic growth and technological progress. Professor Fogel's powerful study will be essential reading for all those interested in economics, demography, history and health care policy.

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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A. R. Cellura on April 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Given that our vision is so heavily freighted with the moment, ideas of human progress are in short supply lately. Although not an easy ride, economic historian and Nobel laureate Robert William Fogel's survey of the long run, at least in respect to human morbidity, leisure and longevity, provides escape velocity from pressing concerns about war, pandemic, income inequality and the health of the ecosphere. It might be as another noted economist, Alfred Lord Keynes, said in a different context: In the long-run we are all dead. But, the long-run seems to be getting longer.

The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, 1700-2100 is an extension of Fogel's briefer 1993 Nobel Prize Lecture. It provides a synergistic view of the impact of increasing human environmental control on the demographic, economic and physiological conditions of successive generations over the past 300 years. According to Fogel, the interaction of these forces has over this period, and most dramatically over the last century, brought about a new stage of evolution - non-genetic "techno-physio evolution." He indicates this is evidenced by an unprecedented positive change during this period in caloric intake of about 250%, human body size of over 50%, and an increase in longevity of over 100%. Pointing to the future, Fogel's extrapolation of data over the last 140 years in optimal life circumstances, suggests that centenarians will be common by the last quarter of the 21st century. During the past three centuries there has also been an accompanying substantial decrease in the hours it takes each day to earn one's daily bread and increase in the percentage of discretionary income.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Paul Moreno on December 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book starts with an examination of living conditions preceding and during the Industrial Revolution, based on data developed in Britain and France in the last few decades that shows life expectancy and mortality for the past three to four centuries. Parallel research also reconstructed estimates of the food available for both countries and some limited data on height of adult males. The data shows that food supply was insufficient and this is also reflected in stunted heights. The problem of hunger was so bad, particularly in France, that people did not get enough calories to do much productive work, and were confined to bed in the winter as a means of conserving calories. People in the US fared better, having adequate nourishment, greatly outliving people in Britain and France.

Though diseases and occasional famines took a toll, chronic malnutrition was a factor in disease susceptibility but chronic malnutrition itself was by far the major factor in mortality. This argument is reinforced with graphs and tables of relative mortality versus height and body mass index.

Times series show a secular decline in mortality beginning around 1750 and continuing until the early 20th Century, although the scatter in the data was also markedly reduced (around the time of industrialization, railroads, steamships and canals) probably due to reduced impact of famines and epidemics.

The books concludes with a discussion of societal effects of the great increase in life expectancy and the problem of health care for the elderly.

After reading this book you will give thanks before every meal!

For a contemporary account see: Friedrich Engles: The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844

As for how we managed to escape from hunger see: Enriching the Earth: Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch, and the Transformation of World Food Production by Vaclav Smil
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Gabriella Kadar on July 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is the first book written by an economist that I have ever read. I always had a rather stereotyped preconceived notion that books by economists are either incomprehensible or sleep inducing or both.

Quelle Suprise! and Lucky lucky me! Professor Fogel has impressed the hell out of me.

Not only is this book a masterpiece of scholarship but it is absolutely rivetting. I could not put it down! There isn't a day that goes by when something learned from this book comes up through connections I make in regards to other subjects I learn or read about.

For example, the New York Times had an article before Christmas about 18th and 19th century French peasants spending their winter months in bed, sleeping as much as possible, only getting up to feed and water their animals. I remembered from Prof. Fogel's book that the French peasants never had enough to eat to grow to optimum body height and build. Of course they'd spend the coldest months 'hibernating'. They needed to save whatever food they had on basic survival.

I could go on and on but prefer to write a review and not rewrite the book.

I know it's a big concept and a big word, but for me this is a seminal work. Thanks Professor Fogel.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You cannot imagine what is the west if you don't read this book! Our history was a matter of survival until recently and the civilization of wealth.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Wilfrid Nixon on August 14, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I got this book as a recommendation [...] and it was a lot more interesting and useful than I had any right to expect. Very well researched study that considers how populations have changed over time and why. If you are worried at all about population growth and the like, you must read this book.
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