Saturday, October 08, 2011

Tall Dutch

Tacitius in his Germania says you'd better watch out for those Germans--those dudes are tall.  Well now he would say that, wouldn't he?  He's Italian.  But lately I learn that the Dutch (maybe Tacitus would have thought them German) are now the tallest people in the world, with an average height for all adults of a bit over six feet (All?  Men and women together?).   Good diet, they say, lots of cheese; good child care and relatively equal income distribution (the Netherlands Gini index, on not-quite-up-to-date data; comes in at about 31, versus the US (and world average) number of 41.

Walking the streets of Amsterdam, I'd have to agree that there are plenty of tall Dutch.  Yet there don't seem to be quite as many as you would expect, given the data.   Maybe the point is not that there are so many really tall Dutch as that there aren't that many short ones.

Also: people remark on how the increased height is a fairly new phenomenon, that military recruitment records (in particular) confirm that the Dutch were shorter as Century ago, and hey, isn't that true of all of us?  Yet again, the really tall people you see around here don't seem to be concentrated among the very young.  An awful lot of the six-plusses that I  see look to be pretty close to my age.  But as Groucho said, who you gonna believe, me or your lyin' eyes?


elrojo said...

can't believe that six foot business. i know people are getting taller but aren't people getting "mixed" ethnically and racially, and doesn't that skewer the figures." first military formation i was in, 1945, sheepshead bay maritime training station, the middle, a big bunch of us, were f-8. i was. i understand 5-8 is almost short nowadays -- ok. but i was in the athens, alabama wal mart some months back before alabama's anti-mex immigration law went into weffect anf seemed like i was surrounded by a horde of tiny mexican indians, men and women, looked aborigine, pure indian, no spanish or other defiling. all barely 5 feet tall. holiday in local chicken processing plants? i dont know but if they mix with locals limestone county alabama is going to reverse the upward trend.

mike shupp said...

My impression is that the rise in Dutch height stems from post-WWII nuitrition and health measures. So the Dutch have been conspicuously taller than their ancestors for the last 6 or 7 decades.

Likely the Japanese could tell a similar story.