Drafting the Dutch. Selection Biases in Dutch Conscript Records in the Second Half of the 19th Century

Björn Quanjer, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
Jan Kok, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

This paper discusses the various steps and selection mechanisms involved in the conscription system of the Netherlands, which was more less similar to the systems found in other European countries. Starting with a birth cohort of 4436 boys, we run a series of regressions on the likelihood to be registered at all and to have one’s height recorded. We discuss the effects of cohort attrition through mortality and migration, and explore familial, social and religious reasons for evading registration and (medical) examination. We find all kinds of selections, but their effects on the distribution and averages of heights are limited. As such, heights culled from conscripts records are an excellent indicator of a cohort’s biological standard of living. Researchers focusing on social variation in height, however, need to be aware of the unequal opportunities to evade registration and measurement.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 255. Heights and health in 19th and 20th centuries