John Komlos

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John Komlos
Born (1944-12-28) December 28, 1944 (age 70)
Budapest, Hungary
Nationality American
Institutions Duke University
University of Munich
Field History of economics
Alma mater University of Chicago
Influences Robert Fogel
Contributions Anthropometric history

John Komlos (born December 28, 1944 in Budapest, Hungary) is an American economic historian of Hungarian descent and former holder of the Chair of Economic History at the University of Munich for eighteen years. In the 1980s, Komlos was instrumental in the emergence of anthropometric history, the study of the effect of economic development on human biological outcomes such as physical stature.


Komlos received a PhD in history (1978) and a second PhD in economics (1990) from the University of Chicago, where he was influenced by the Nobel Prize winning economic historian Robert Fogel to research the economic history of human physical stature. Komlos named this new discipline "anthropometric history" in 1989. He was a fellow at the Carolina Population Center of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1984 to 1986. Komlos also taught at such institutions as Harvard University, Duke University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Vienna, and the Vienna University of Economics. He was professor of economics and of economic history at the University of Munich for eighteen years before his retirement. He is also the founding editor of Economics and Human Biology in 2003. Elected fellow of the Cliometric Society in 2013.

Selected publications[edit]


  • What Every Economics Student Needs to Know and Doesn't Get: In the Usual Principles Text. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe. 2014. 
  • Nutrition and Economic Development in the Eighteenth-Century Habsburg Monarchy: An Anthropometric History. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 1989. 
  • Empirische Ökonomie: Eine Einführung in Methoden und Anwendungen (with Bernd Süssmuth). Heidelberg Dordrecht London New York: Springer Verlag. 2010. 
  • (Ed.), Stature, Living Standards, and Economic Development: Essays in Anthropometric History. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 1994. 
  • (Ed.), Timothy Cuff (1998). Classics of Anthropometric History: A Selected Anthology. St. Katharinen, Germany: Scripta Mercaturae. 


  • "The Trend of BMI Values of US adults by deciles, birth cohorts 1882-1986 stratified by gender and ethnicity,". NBER Working Paper no. 16252. 2011.  [1]
  • Komlos, J (2004). "From the Tallest to (One of) the Fattest: The Enigmatic Fate of the Size of the American Population in the Twentieth Century". Economics and Human Biology 2 (1): 57–74. doi:10.1016/j.ehb.2003.12.006. PMID 15463993. 
  • Michel Hau and Nicolas Bourguinat (August 2003). "An Anthropometric History of Early-Modern France, 1666-1766". European Review of Economic History (7): 159–189. 
  • Peter Kriwy (2003). "The Biological Standard of Living in the Two Germanies". German Economic Review 4 (4): 493–507. 
  • "Access to Food and the Biological Standard of Living: Perspectives on the Nutritional Status of Native Americans". American Economic Review 91 (1): 252–255. March 2003. 
  • Ray Rees, Ngo Van Long, and Ulrich Woitek (2003). "Optimal Food Allocation in a Slave Economy". Journal of Population Economics 16: 21–36. doi:10.1007/s001480100109. 
  • Komlos, John (1998). "Shrinking in a Growing Economy? The Mystery of Physical Stature during the Industrial Revolution". Journal of Economic History 58 (3): 779–802. doi:10.1017/S0022050700021161. 
  • Komlos, J (October 1997). "On the 'Puzzling' Antebellum Cycle of the Biological Standard of Living: the Case of Georgia". Explorations in Economic History 34 (4): 433–59. doi:10.1006/exeh.1997.0680. 
  • "Anomalies in Economic History: Reflections on the 'Antebellum Puzzle'". Journal of Economic History 56: 202–214. March 1996. doi:10.1017/s0022050700016089. 
  • Peter Coclanis (1995). "Nutrition and Economic Development in Post-Reconstruction South Carolina: an Anthropometric Approach". Social Science History 19: 91–116. doi:10.2307/1171231. 
  • "The Secular Trend in the Biological Standard of Living in the United Kingdom, 1730-1860". Economic History Review 46: 115–44. February 1993. doi:10.2307/2597683. 
  • Joo Han Kim (1990). "Estimating Trends in Historical Heights". Historical Methods (23): 116–120. 
  • "The Height and Weight of West Point Cadets: Dietary Change in Antebellum America". Journal of Economic History 47: 897–927. 1987. doi:10.1017/s002205070004986x.  The fifth most frequently cited article in the journal's history (as of 2011).
  • "Stature and Nutrition in the Habsburg Monarchy: The Standard of Living and Economic Development". American Historical Review 90: 1149–1161. 1985. doi:10.2307/1859662. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Home page
  • Guest on National Public Radio, The Connection
  • Jon Stewart on the Daily show on Komlos's finding that the Dutch are the tallest in the world: [2]
  • Paul Krugman on his work in the New York Times “America comes up short”: [3]
  • Economics and Human Biology
  • Burkhard Bilger, “The Height Gap Europeans are getting taller; why aren’t we?” The New Yorker, April 5, 2004, pp 38–45. [4]
  • “Op-Ed” essay about balanced trade: [5]