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Malaria and National Income: Examining a Two Way Causal Relationship


  • Datta, Saurabh
  • Reimer, Jeffrey J.


Simple plots of data show that malaria has a negative correlation with national income per capita, whether looking across countries at a point in time, or looking at a single country over time. Some countries have been able to move from an equilibrium characterized by low income and high malaria, to a new equilibrium with higher income and lower rates of malaria. This study develops and estimates a simultaneous equations model to explain these changes. We distinguish three potential causal chains: (a) the ability for decreases in malaria to increase income, (b) the ability for increases in income to reduce malaria (reverse causality), and (c) external factors that may lead to both higher income and lower malaria (incidental association). We find that changes in income have a much stronger effect on malaria than the other way around. While a 1% rise in the number of malaria cases per million decreases income per capita by less than 0.01%, a 1% rise in income per capita decreases the number of malaria cases per million by more than 1.1%. If income were just 1% higher in the 100 countries of the sample, 603,189 cases of malaria could be averted annually.

Suggested Citation

  • Datta, Saurabh & Reimer, Jeffrey J., 2010. "Malaria and National Income: Examining a Two Way Causal Relationship," 2010 Annual Meeting, July 25-27, 2010, Denver, Colorado 61179, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea10:61179

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. von Braun, Joachim, 2007. "The world food situation: New driving forces and required actions," Food policy reports 18, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. repec:reg:rpubli:291 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Olivier DeschĂȘnes & Michael Greenstone, 2007. "The Economic Impacts of Climate Change: Evidence from Agricultural Output and Random Fluctuations in Weather," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 354-385, March.
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    More about this item


    antipoverty; GDP; health; economic growth; malaria; simultaneous equations; Health Economics and Policy; International Development; Labor and Human Capital; I1; I3; O1; O2;

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O2 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy


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