The Effects of the Works Progress Administration's Anti-Malaria Programs in Georgia 1932–1947
In: The Microeconomics of New Deal Policy
From 1900 to 1950, malaria rates declined rapidly in the southeast United States. At its peak, malaria infected over 30% of the population. Malaria declined over the period for several reasons: improvements in public infrastructure; development of new insecticides; improvements in agriculture that promoted drainage; increases in incomes; and changes in migration patterns. This paper focuses on public works constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the 1930s and subsequent interventions during the 1940s. To estimate the relationship between these malaria programs and malaria rates, I construct a panel of annual county level malaria rates in Georgia from 1932 to 1947. Between 1932 and 1940 the malaria rate in counties that received WPA malaria projects fell from 25.9 deaths per 100,000 to 5.3 deaths per 100,000. The empirical estimates suggest that WPA malaria projects led to 9.1 fewer deaths per 100,000 or roughly 44% of the observed decline in treated counties. Additional public works constructed by the MCWA during World War II, and the introduction of DDT after 1945 completely eliminated malaria in Georgia by 1947.
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