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Nineteenth Century Black and White US Statures: The Primary Sources of Vitamin D and their Relationship with Height

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  • Scott A. Carson

Abstract

Vitamin D is vital in all vertebrates because it allows them to absorb more calcium from their diets, contributing to stronger skeletal systems and stature growth. Using a new source of 19th century US state prison records, this study contrasts the statures of comparable African-Americans and whites by the primary sources of vitamin D production: time exposed to solar radiation, skin pigmentation, and nativity. Greater insolation (vitamin D production) is documented here to be associated with taller black and white statures, and a considerable share of the stature differential by socioeconomic status was related to insolation.

Suggested Citation

  • Scott A. Carson, 2008. "Nineteenth Century Black and White US Statures: The Primary Sources of Vitamin D and their Relationship with Height," CESifo Working Paper Series 2497, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2497
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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp2497.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Steckel, Richard H., 1979. "Slave height profiles from coastwise manifests," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 363-380, October.
    2. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
    3. Haines, Michael R. & Craig, Lee A. & Weiss, Thomas, 2003. "The Short and the Dead: Nutrition, Mortality, and the in the United States," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 63(02), pages 382-413, June.
    4. Pritchett, Jonathan B. & Freudenberger, Herman, 1992. "A Peculiar Sample: The Selection of Slaves for the New Orleans Market," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(01), pages 109-127, March.
    5. Bodenhorn, Howard, 1999. "A Troublesome Caste: Height and Nutrition of Antebellum Virginia's Rural Free Blacks," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(04), pages 972-996, December.
    6. Sutch, Richard, 1975. "The treatment received by American slaves: A critical review of the evidence presented in Time on the Cross," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 335-438, October.
    7. Coelho, Philip R. P. & McGuire, Robert A., 2000. "Diets Versus Diseases: The Anthropometrics of Slave Children," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(01), pages 232-246, March.
    8. repec:cup:jechis:v:60:y:2008:i:01:p:232-246_00 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    socioeconomic status; vitamin D; insolation; 19th century US statures;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • N81 - Economic History - - Micro-Business History - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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