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Malaria suitability, urbanization and persistence: Evidence from China over more than 2000 years

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  • Flückiger, Matthias
  • Ludwig, Markus

Abstract

We show that the climatic potential for Plasmodium falciparum malaria transmission constituted a locational fundamental that influenced the spatial distribution of urbanization since the early start of the southward expansion of the Han Chinese around 200 BCE. This effect is still detectable in today's distribution of urbanization and economic activity even though the risk of malaria falciparum has been successfully eliminated. We do not find any indication of convergence between high- and low malaria potential regions after eradication. Our identification strategy relies on a climate-based measure of Plasmodium falciparum malaria transmission intensity which is fitted to experimental data on mosquito and parasite development from laboratory studies. This measure is exogenous with respect to human population densities.

Suggested Citation

  • Flückiger, Matthias & Ludwig, Markus, 2017. "Malaria suitability, urbanization and persistence: Evidence from China over more than 2000 years," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 146-160.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:92:y:2017:i:c:p:146-160
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2016.12.006
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    Keywords

    Malaria; Urbanization; Economic growth; China;

    JEL classification:

    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • N15 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Asia including Middle East

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