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Although these data are probably confounded by changes in recruiting practices, they are consistent with a trend to­ ward increased stature among young people. In fact, people are getting larger, and they are maturing ear­ lier, than in previous generations. The average age for first men­ struation, for example, is now just under age 13; in the mid-1800s it THE SECULAR TREND 33 was over 16. " Larger athletes at the University of Texas provide just one example of this trend at work. Dimensions of the Secular Trend Increase in Stature In the United States, large-scale data on stature are provided by the armed forces.

Observational studies attempt to locate behavior within its nat­ ural context. Field studies, which are observational studies in which researchers observe behavior in its natural habitat with­ out any intervention, have been valuable in providing rich SUMMARY 2 9 sources of information about adolescent social behavior. Hollingshead's study of " E l m t o w n " is a good example of a fieldobservational study of adolescence. 13. Cross-cultural studies are another special type of observational study.

Origins of these women were predominantly European. A similar trend holds for other ethnic groups. The Japanese Ministry of Education has compiled physical measurements on essentially all children in school since 1900 (except during the Second World War). Records of all girls who were 6 years old in 1900 and in 1950 were examined for age of menarche. 6 (Kimura, 1967). Similarly, average age of menarche among samples of girls in THE SECULAR TREND 35 FIGURE 2-2 Median ages at menarche in selected north­ ern European countries and the United States from 1845 to 1969.

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