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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. Oded Galor, 2006. "The Demographic Transition," Working Papers 2006-24, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  2. Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Strulik, Holger, 2013. "The history augmented Solow model," European Economic Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 134-149.
  3. Nicola Gennaioli & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2011. "Human Capital and Regional Development," NBER Working Papers 17158, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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).
  5. Peter Lorentzen & John McMillan & Romain Wacziarg, 2006. "Death and Development," 2006 Meeting Papers, Society for Economic Dynamics 61, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Durante, Ruben, 2009. "Risk, Cooperation and the Economic Origins of Social Trust: an Empirical Investigation," MPRA Paper 25887, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2011. "Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2003-41, August.
  8. Oded Galor, 2004. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," GE, Growth, Math methods, EconWPA 0409003, EconWPA.
  9. Hazan, Moshe & Zoabi, Hosny, 2005. "Does Longevity Cause Growth?," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 4931, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. J. Vernon Henderson & Adam Storeygard & David N. Weil, 2012. "Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 994-1028, April.
  11. Moshe Hazan, 2009. "Longevity and Lifetime Labor Supply: Evidence and Implications," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 77(6), pages 1829-1863, November.
  12. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2002. "Natural Selection And The Origin Of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1133-1191, November.
  13. Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan & Belgi Turan, 2010. "HIV and Fertility Revisited," NBER Working Papers 16115, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Moshe Hazan & Hosny Zoabi, 2006. "Does longevity cause growth? A theoretical critique," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 363-376, December.
  15. Hoyt Bleakley, 2007. "Disease and Development: Evidence from Hookworm Eradication in the American South," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 122(1), pages 73-117, 02.
  16. Thomas Andersen & Carl-Johan Dalgaard, 2011. "Flows of people, flows of ideas, and the inequality of nations," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 1-32, March.
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Hansen, Casper Worm, 2013. "The diffusion of health technologies: Cultural and biological divergence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 21-34.
  3. Alberto Basso & David Cuberes Vilalta, 2011. "Institutions, culture and the onset of the demographic transition," Working Papers. Serie AD, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie) 2011-13, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  4. Francesco Cinnirella & Jochen Streb, 2013. "The Role of Human Capital and Innovation in Prussian Economic Development," CESifo Working Paper Series 4391, CESifo Group Munich.

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