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Eye Disease and Development

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Author Info

  • Thomas Barnebeck Andersen

    (Department of Business and Economics, University of Southern Denmark)

  • Carl-Johan Dalgaard

    (Institute of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

  • Pablo Selaya

    (Institute of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

This research advances the hypothesis that cross-country variation in the historical incidence of eye disease has influenced the current global distribution of per capita income. The theory is that pervasive eye disease diminished the incentive to accumulate skills, thereby delaying the fertility transition and the take-off to sustained economic growth. In order to estimate the influence from eye disease incidence empirically, we draw on an important fact from the field of epidemiology: Exposure to solar ultraviolet B radiation (UVB-R) is an underlying determinant of several forms of eye disease; the most important being cataract, which is currently the leading cause of blindness worldwide. Using a satellite-based measure of UVB-R, we document that societies more exposed to UVB-R are poorer and underwent the fertility transition with a significant delay compared to the forerunners. These findings are robust to the inclusion of an extensive set of climate and geography controls. Moreover, using a global data set on economic activity for all terrestrial grid cells we show that the link between UVB-R and economic development survives the inclusion of country fixed effect.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 11-22.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: 01 Aug 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:1122

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Keywords: Comparative development; eye disease; climate;

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References

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  1. Vernon Henderson & Adam Storeygard & David N. Weil, 2009. "Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space," Working Papers 2009-8, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  2. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2011. "Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2003-41, August.
  3. Oded Galor, 2005. "Unified Growth Theory," Development and Comp Systems 0504001, EconWPA.
  4. Kalemli-Ozcan, Sebnem & Turan, Belgi, 2011. "HIV and fertility revisited," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 61-65, September.
  5. Nicola Gennaioli & Rafael Laporta & Florencio López-de-Silanes & Andrei Schleifer, 2011. "Human Capital and Regional Development," Working Papers 581, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  6. Moshe Hazan & Hosny Zoabi, 2006. "Does longevity cause growth? A theoretical critique," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 363-376, December.
  7. Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Strulik, Holger, 2013. "The history augmented Solow model," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 151, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
  8. Galor, Oded, 2004. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," CEPR Discussion Papers 4581, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Hazan, Moshe & Zoabi, Hosny, 2005. "Does Longevity Cause Growth?," CEPR Discussion Papers 4931, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Cervellati, Matteo & Sunde, Uwe, 2009. "Life Expectancy and Economic Growth: The Role of the Demographic Transition," IZA Discussion Papers 4160, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Moshe Hazan, 2009. "Longevity and Lifetime Labor Supply: Evidence and Implications," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(6), pages 1829-1863, November.
  12. Durante, Ruben, 2009. "Risk, Cooperation and the Economic Origins of Social Trust: an Empirical Investigation," MPRA Paper 25887, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 2000. "Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth," Arbetsrapport 2000:5, Institute for Futures Studies.
  14. Thomas Andersen & Carl-Johan Dalgaard, 2011. "Flows of people, flows of ideas, and the inequality of nations," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 1-32, March.
  15. Peter Lorentzen & John McMillan & Romain Wacziarg, 2006. "Death and Development," 2006 Meeting Papers 61, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  16. Hoyt Bleakley, 2007. "Disease and Development: Evidence from Hookworm Eradication in the American South," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(1), pages 73-117, 02.
  17. Oded Galor, 2006. "The Demographic Transition," Working Papers 2006-24, Brown University, Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Alberto Basso & David Cuberes Vilalta, 2011. "Institutions, culture and the onset of the demographic transition," Working Papers. Serie AD 2011-13, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  2. Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Strulik, Holger, 2013. "The history augmented Solow model," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 151, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
  3. Francesco Cinnirella & Jochen Streb, 2013. "The Role of Human Capital and Innovation in Prussian Economic Development," CESifo Working Paper Series 4391, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Hansen, Casper Worm, 2011. "The diffusion of health technologies: Cultural and biological divergence," Discussion Papers of Business and Economics 6/2011, Department of Business and Economics, University of Southern Denmark.

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