IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The Natural Selection of Infectious Disease Resistance and Its Effect on Contemporary Health


  • C. Justin Cook

    (University of California-Merced)


This paper empirically tests the association between genetically determined resistance to infectious disease and cross-country health differences. A country-level measure of genetic diversity for the system of genes associated with the recognition and disposal of foreign pathogens is constructed. Genetic diversity within this system has been shown to reduce the virulence and prevalence of infectious diseases and is hypothesized to have been naturally selected from historical exposure to infectious pathogens. Base estimation shows a statistically strong, robust, and positive relationship between this constructed measure and country-level health outcomes in times prior to, but not after, the international epidemiological transition.

Suggested Citation

  • C. Justin Cook, 2015. "The Natural Selection of Infectious Disease Resistance and Its Effect on Contemporary Health," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 742-757, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:97:y:2015:i:4:p:742-757

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Simplice A. Asongu & Oasis Kodila†Tedika, 2017. "Is Poverty in the African DNA (Gene)?," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 85(4), pages 533-552, December.
    2. Quamrul H. Ashraf & Oded Galor & Marc P. B. Klemp, 2020. "The Ancient Origins of the Wealth of Nations," CESifo Working Paper Series 8624, CESifo.
    3. Fotios Pasiouras & Elie Bouri & David Roubaud & Emilios Galariotis, 2021. "Culture and Multiple Firm–Bank Relationships: A Matter of Secrecy and Trust?," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 174(1), pages 221-249, November.
    4. Quamrul H. Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2018. "The Macrogenoeconomics of Comparative Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 56(3), pages 1119-1155, September.
    5. Emilio Depetris-Chauvin & Ömer Özak, 2020. "The origins of the division of labor in pre-industrial times," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 297-340, September.
    6. Emilio Depetris-Chauvin & Ömer Özak, 2018. "The Origins of the Division of Labor in Pre-modern Times," Departmental Working Papers 1803, Southern Methodist University, Department of Economics.
    7. Gaganis, Chrysovalantis & Pasiouras, Fotios & Wohlschlegel, Ansgar, 2021. "Allocating supervisory responsibilities to central bankers: Does national culture matter?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(C).
    8. Erkan Goeren, 2017. "The Role of Novelty-Seeking Traits in Contemporary Knowledge Creation," Working Papers V-402-17, University of Oldenburg, Department of Economics, revised Sep 2017.
    9. Oasis Kodila-Tedika & Simplice A. Asongu, 2016. "Genetic distance and cognitive human capital: a cross-national investigation," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 33-51, April.
    10. C. Justin Cook & Jason Fletcher, 2022. "Heterogeneity in Disease Resistance and the Impact of Antibiotics in the US," NBER Working Papers 30269, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Emilio Depetris-Chauvin & Ömer Özak, 2016. "The Origins and Long-Run Consequences of the Division of Labor," Departmental Working Papers 1610, Southern Methodist University, Department of Economics.
    12. Gören, Erkan, 2017. "The persistent effects of novelty-seeking traits on comparative economic development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 112-126.
    13. Riahi, Ideen, 2020. "How hominin dispersals and megafaunal extinctions influenced the birth of agriculture," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 175(C), pages 227-250.
    14. Ideen A. Riahi, 2022. "Why Eurasia? A probe into the origins of global inequalities," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 16(1), pages 105-147, January.
    15. C. Dannemann & Erkan Goeren, 2018. "The Educational Burden of ADHD: Evidence From Student Achievement Test Scores," Working Papers V-408-18, University of Oldenburg, Department of Economics, revised Apr 2018.

    More about this item


    Life Expectancy; Long Term Comparative Development; Human Capital; Infectious Disease; Genetic Diversity; Neolithic Revolution; Natural Selection;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:97:y:2015:i:4:p:742-757. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Ann Olson (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.