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Endemic Diseases and African Economic Growth: Challenges and Policy Responses-super- †


  • David N. Weil


I examine the economic effects of disease and disease control. I consider both the effect of disease on conventionally measured GDP and also the monetary equivalent of the utility benefits from lower mortality. Regarding the effects on conventional GDP, I evaluate a number of approaches including cross-country regression (with and without instruments for disease) and simulation based on microeconomic studies. I also discuss theoretically and empirically the different channels that link disease and economic outcomes, including effects that run through labour productivity, education and population growth. Different approaches yield somewhat different results, but the overall finding is that there is at best weak support for the claims that the disease burden in Africa significantly lowers GDP or that improving health would provide a big impetus to economic growth. In contrast, the monetary equivalent of the utility benefits from better health can be extremely large. For example, reduced mortality in many developing countries has made a contribution to utility of roughly the same value as the growth of conventional GDP over the last several decades. Copyright 2010 The author 2010. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Centre for the Study of African Economies. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email:, Oxford University Press.

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  • David N. Weil, 2010. "Endemic Diseases and African Economic Growth: Challenges and Policy Responses-super- †," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 19(suppl_3), pages 81-109, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jafrec:v:19:y:2010:i:suppl_3:p:81-109

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    1. repec:eee:joecag:v:4:y:2014:i:c:p:100-111 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Francis Makamu & Mehtabul Azam & Harounan Kazianga, 2017. "Returns to Controlling a Neglected Tropical Disease: Schistosomiasis Control Program and Education Outcomes in Nigeria," Economics Working Paper Series 1711, Oklahoma State University, Department of Economics and Legal Studies in Business.

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