Urban penalty: New hypotheses and Spanish case (1860-1920)

Antonio Escudero, Roser Nicolau

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The term "urban penalty" was initially used to define the urban over mortality observed during the industrial revolution. it was later used by the specialists in Anthropometry to define a fact that happened simultaneously: the decline in urban height in comparison with that of rural zones. in the first part of this paper we propose three new hypotheses on that penalty: (i) incorporating the contributions made by the Economic Theory on market failures to the analysis of urban over mortality; (ii) analysing urban penalty through the model recently proposed by Floud, Fogel, Harris and chul Hong for the analysis of the British case, and c) suggesting answers to a question that must be supported or refuted by research at local level: why did it take the spanish politicians of the restoration period decades before undertaking a health reform in the cities? in the second part of the article we show information showing that spain suffered urban over mortality due to market failures. The data on rural and urban height show that by contrast, safe in some cases, the country did not suffered from urban penalty. The paper concludes with an attempt to explain this peculiarity and arguing that the model by Floud, Fogel, Harris and chul Hong can be applied in those cases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-33
JournalHistoria Social
Issue number80
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Sanitary reform
  • Spain
  • Urban penalty
  • Urbanization


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