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Disease and Development: Evidence from the American South

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  • Hoyt Bleakley

    (The University of California at San Diego,)

Abstract

Hookworm and malaria, parasites that remain a significant public health threat in the tropical belt today, were endemic in the American South as late as the first half of the twentieth century. I discuss how the successful eradication of malaria and hookworm in the American South affected human-capital accumulation. I find that areas that had higher levels of (malaria or hookworm) infection prior to eradication experienced greater increases in school attendance and literacy afterwards. Moreover, I find that adults earned substantially more if they were not exposed to these diseases as children. The estimates are large relative to the subsequent convergence between the North and South in the United States, but small compared to the cross-country distribution of income. Nevertheless, the results indicate potentially large benefits of public health interventions in developing countries. (JEL: I12, J24, O10, H43) Copyright (c) 2003 The European Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Hoyt Bleakley, 2003. "Disease and Development: Evidence from the American South," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(2-3), pages 376-386, 04/05.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:1:y:2003:i:2-3:p:376-386
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    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate

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