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Demographic, Residential, and Socioeconomic Effects on the Distribution of 19th Century US White Statures

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  • Scott A. Carson

Abstract

Using a source of 19th century US state prison records, this study addresses European-American stature variation. The most commonly cited sources for stature variation are diets, disease, and work effort. However, vitamin D is also vital in human statures and health. This paper demonstrates that 19th century white statures were positively associated with direct sunlight, which is the primary source of vitamin D in mammals. Stature and insolation are associated with occupations, and workers who spent more time outdoors produced more vitamin D and grew taller. White statures also decreased throughout the 19th century, and this stature diminution is observed across the stature distribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Scott A. Carson, 2009. "Demographic, Residential, and Socioeconomic Effects on the Distribution of 19th Century US White Statures," CESifo Working Paper Series 2563, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2563
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Komlos, John & Coclanis, Peter, 1997. "On the Puzzling Cycle in the Biological Standard of Living: The Case of Antebellum Georgia," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 433-459, October.
    2. A'Hearn, Brian, 2004. "A restricted maximum likelihood estimator for truncated height samples," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 5-19, March.
    3. Metzer, Jacob, 1975. "Rational management, modern business practices, and economies of scale in the ante-bellum southern plantations," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 123-150, April.
    4. Komlos, John, 1987. "The Height and Weight of West Point Cadets: Dietary Change in Antebellum America," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(04), pages 897-927, December.
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    6. Koenker,Roger, 2005. "Quantile Regression," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521845731, January.
    7. 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.
    8. Sunder, Marco, 2004. "The height of Tennessee convicts: another piece of the "antebellum puzzle"," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 75-86, March.
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    11. Carson, Scott Alan, 2008. "The Effect of Geography and Vitamin D on African American Stature in the Nineteenth Century: Evidence from Prison Records," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(03), pages 812-831, September.
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    13. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2004.045260_3 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. John Komlos, 1992. "Toward an Anthropometric History of African-Americans: The Case of the Free Blacks in Antebellum Maryland," NBER Chapters,in: Strategic Factors in Nineteenth Century American Economic History: A Volume to Honor Robert W. Fogel, pages 297-329 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    19th US white statures; vitamin D; solar radiation; quantile regression;

    JEL classification:

    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J00 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - General
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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