Revised Edition of "Historical Statistics of the United States" Includes Health Data

From 1997 to 1999, a group of editors led by Richard H. Steckel, PhD, a professor of economics and anthropology at Ohio State University, prepared a chapter on health, nutrition and physical well being for the revised and updated Millennial Edition of the Historical Statistics of the United States.

This publication, which had not been updated since 1976, is a guide to the statistical history of the United States from Colonial times to the present. Its editors consider it the most reliable historical time series available about such topics as population, income and wealth, and agriculture and economic productivity, including data produced by government statistical agencies, institutions and scholars.

Key Results

The project director and researchers did the following:

  • Evaluated the suitability of the data series in the previous (1976) edition of the work and determined which new data series to include to improve the depiction of health, nutrition and well-being. All of the 239 data series in the previous edition were retained and 939 new data series were added, arranged under the general headings of medical care, diseases, substance use, nutrition and health status.

  • Collected or updated the data for all series to be included in the volume and placed them in an electronic format suitable for the publication.

  • Prepared a 30-page introductory essay entitled "Health, Nutrition, and Physical Well-Being" that discussed three broad categories of data:

    • Resource inputs to health.
    • Lifestyle choices that affect health.
    • Health outcomes.

    The introduction explains the relevance and importance of the data and indicates, with some examples, how the data relates to various research and policy questions. The introduction includes charts highlighting selected historical trends, such as the percentage of U.S. population covered by health insurance from 1982 through 1993, and the percentage of U.S. population over 18 years old who smoked, years 1965 through 1994.

  • Presented and discussed the updated and expanded health chapter at a meeting of the Social Science History Association.