Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



This research investigates the effect of sun exposure on fertility, with a special focus on how its effects and consequences for birth outcomes may differ by race. Sun exposure is a key mechanism for obtaining Vitamin D, but this process is inhibited by skin pigmentation. Vitamin D has been linked to male and female fertility and risk of miscarriage, and Vitamin D deficiency is more prevalent among blacks than whites. Using 1989–2004 individual live births data from the Natality Detail Files, county-level, monthly conceptions are estimated as a function of monthly solar insolation, temperature and humidity, as well as month, time and location fixed effects and controls. Insolation has positive, statistically significant effects on fertility for both non Hispanic blacks and whites, but the effects are stronger and the pattern of effect different for black mothers than white


Version posted is an unedited manuscript that has been accepted for publication.

Published in its final version as: Conway, K.S. & Trudeau, J.M. (2019). Sunshine, fertility and racial disparities. Economics & Human Biology, 32, 18-39. doi: 10.1016/j.ehb.2018.10.002

JEL classification: I1, Q5. J13

PMID: 30665057





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