The Heights and Weights of War- and Welfare: On the use of military records in anthropometric history and the study of socioeconomic correlates, with a case study of Finnish conscription data, 1918-1944
This thesis aimed to broaden our understanding of the usefulness of military records for anthropometric history, through a study of Finnish conscript records (1918-1944). Through the use of multiple regression analysis, various relationships between variables representing anthropometric measurements (height, weight, and BMI) and socioeconomic indicators (education, occupation, military rank upon conscription, and mother tongue) were analysed. We found significant correlations between the socioeconomic status of a conscript and his recorded height, confirming a relationship well-known in anthropometric historiography. Our findings however suggest new avenues of research, as some of these factors, such as mother tongue, have not yet been researched before (with level of education being utilized most often). We conclude that conscription records, even with its limitations, form the prime source for historical anthropometric research, and urge future research to delve deeper into ‘exotic’ indicators of socioeconomic status, to broaden our understanding of processes of (historical) social stratification.
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