Soaking Up the Sun: The Complicated Role of Sunshine in the Production of Infant Health

60 Pages Posted: 31 Dec 2013

See all articles by Jennifer Trudeau

Jennifer Trudeau

Sacred Heart University

Karen Smith Conway

University of New Hampshire - Department of Economics

Andrea Kutinova Menclova

University of Canterbury - Economics and Finance

Date Written: October 30, 2013

Abstract

This research explores the role of sunshine in birth outcomes production. Its most obvious role is through Vitamin D absorption, which could explain racial disparities because skin pigmentation inhibits this process. However, the effects of sunshine are complex and closely connected to environmental factors (e.g., air pollution and temperature), season of birth, and policies like Medicaid. Combining daily weather data with 1989-2004 birth outcomes from the Natality Detail Files, we estimate sunshine’s effects in a range of models that disentangle these confounding factors and find they differ by race and explain a nontrivial portion of racial differences in birth weight.

Keywords: infant health, weather, sunshine, racial gap, geographic disparities, season of birth

JEL Classification: I1, Q5

Suggested Citation

Trudeau, Jennifer and Conway, Karen Smith and Kutinova Menclova, Andrea, Soaking Up the Sun: The Complicated Role of Sunshine in the Production of Infant Health (October 30, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2373229 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2373229

Jennifer Trudeau

Sacred Heart University ( email )

5151 Park Avenue
Fairfield, CT 06825
United States

Karen Smith Conway (Contact Author)

University of New Hampshire - Department of Economics ( email )

Durham, NH 03824
United States

Andrea Kutinova Menclova

University of Canterbury - Economics and Finance ( email )

Private Bag 4800
Christchurch
New Zealand

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