The use of height data to measure living standards is now a well-established method in the economic literature, and heights are related with vitamin D. Although African-Americans and whites have the genetic ability to reach similar terminal statures, 19th century blacks were consistently shorter than whites. Greater insolation (vitamin D production), is documented here to be associated with taller black statures. Consistent with the insolation-hypothesis, mulattos were taller than darker pigmented blacks, and most of the mulatto-black stature differential was attributable to age and insolation. Black farmers were taller than workers in other occupations, and black statures increased during the antebellum period and decreased with slavery's elimination, which is observed across the stature distribution.
19th century African-American stature insolation quantile regression