The use of height data to measure living standards is now a well-established method in the economic literature. While much is known about 19th century black legal and material conditions, less is known about how 19th century biological conditions were related to the physical environment and institutional change. Although modern blacks and whites reach similar terminal statures when brought to maturity under similar biological conditions, 19th century African-American statures in Southern states were consistently shorter than whites, indicating a uniquely 19th century phenomenon may have influenced black stature growth. It is geography and direct sunlight (insolation) that present a striking attribute of 19th century black and white statures, and greater insolation is documented here to be associated with taller black and white statures.
Nineteenth century southern black and white statures insolation vitamin D