The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Standards of Living (Historical Trends)

  • Richard H. Steckel
Reference work entry


Social scientists generally agree on the considerable value of measuring and investigating long-term trends and socio-economic differences in the standard of living or quality of life. Over the past two centuries, researchers have refined the methodology for making such assessments but economic historians continue to be challenged by lack of raw data before the early 20th century. While it is impossible to assemble a comprehensive picture, useful information is available about changes or differences in GDP per capita and life expectancy from the early 19th century onward. It was during this era that large differences across countries and regions appeared.


Child mortality Great Depression Index number problems Industrialization International migration Life expectancy Longevity New anthropometric history Nutrition Standards of living Urbanization 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard H. Steckel
    • 1
  1. 1.