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Geography, insolation, and vitamin D in nineteenth century US African-American and white statures

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  • Carson, Scott Alan

Abstract

Using a new source of nineteenth century US state prison records I contrast the biological living conditions of comparable African-Americans and whites. Although blacks and whites today in the US reach similar terminal statures, nineteenth century African-American statures were consistently shorter than those of whites. Greater insolation (vitamin D production) is shown to be associated with taller black and white statures and a considerable share of the stature difference between US blacks and whites was attributable to insolation and vitamin D production. Black statures increased during the antebellum period, while white statures declined. Black and white statures both decreased after the Civil War. Farmers were taller than workers in other occupations, and an alternative explanation for stature variation by social class is considered.

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  • Carson, Scott Alan, 2009. "Geography, insolation, and vitamin D in nineteenth century US African-American and white statures," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 149-159, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:46:y:2009:i:1:p:149-159
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Schneider, Eric B., 2018. "Sample selection biases and the historical growth pattern of children," Economic History Working Papers 87075, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    2. Carson, Scott Alan, 2013. "Body mass, wealth, and inequality in the 19th century: Joining the debate surrounding equality and health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 90-94.
    3. Steckel, Richard H., 2009. "Heights and human welfare: Recent developments and new directions," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 1-23, January.

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