Birth Weight and Economic Growth: Women's Living Standards in the Industrializing West
How can the history of birth weight add to our knowledge of women's living conditions in the past? In this study of newborn weight and economic growth in Boston, Dublin, Edinburgh, Montreal, and Vienna between 1850 and 1930, W. Peter Ward explores the relation between infant size, economic development, and living standards of working-class women in the industrializing West.
Drawing on clinical records from urban maternity hospitals and outpatient services, Ward compares birth weight between cities and traces changes in fetal size during a period in which some cities experienced dramatic economic development while others stagnated. Because fetal growth is strongly affected by maternal nutrition, Ward's research sheds new light on the well-being of working-class women whose living conditions have long been obscure and exceedingly difficult to examine.
This book will interest social and economic historians, as well as scholars of women's studies and the history of medicine, and its lessons on the distribution of social benefits during economic change have immidiate relevance for today's developing countries.
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