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On the Distributional Consequences of Epidemics

  • Raouf BOUCEKKINE

    (UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE DE LOUVAIN, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES) and Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE))

  • Jean-Pierre LAFFARGUE

    (University Paris I, CES and CEPREMAP)

We develop a tractable general theory for the study of the economic and demographic impact of epidemics, and notably its distributional consequences. To this end, we develop a three-period overlapping generations model where altruistic parents choose optimal health expenditures for their children and themselves. The survival probability of (junior) adults and children depends on such investments. Agents can be skilled or unskilled. The model emphasizes the role of orphans. Orphans are not only penalized in the face of death, they are also penalized in the access to education. Epidemics are modeled as one period exogenous shocks to the survival rates. We specifically study the consequence of a negative shock on adult survival rates in the first period. We prove that while the epidemic has no permanent effect on income distribution, it can perfectly alter it in the short and medium run. In particular, the epidemic may imply a worsening in the short and medium run of both economic performance and income distribution. Two opposite mechanisms are isolated: first, the survival rate of children at the end of the first period decreases relatively more in poor than in wealthy families. This decreases the proportion of junior adults with a low endowment of human capital in period 2. Secondly, the number of orphans in period 1 increases in both families. This decreases the proportion of junior adults with a low endowment of human capital in period 2. Therefore, the proportion of the unskilled will necessarily increase in the medium run if orphans are too penalized in the access to a high level of education.

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Paper provided by Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES) in its series Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) with number 2009012.

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Length: 27
Date of creation: 01 May 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ctl:louvir:2009012
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  1. Angus Deaton, 2002. "Health, inequality, and economic development," Working Papers 270, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  2. Raouf Boucekkine & Jean-Pierre Laffargue, 2008. "A theory of dynamics and inequalities under epidemics," PSE Working Papers halshs-00586799, HAL.
  3. Alwyn Young, 2005. "The Gift of the Dying: The Tragedy of AIDS and the Welfare of Future African Generations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 423-466.
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  5. Boucekkine, Raouf & de la Croix, David & Licandro, Omar, 2000. "Vintage Human Capital, Demographic Trends and Endogenous Growth," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2000007, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
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  8. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2002. "The Inheritance of Inequality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 3-30, Summer.
  9. Shankha Chakraborty & Mausumi Das, 2003. "Mortality, Human Capital and Persistent Inequality," Working papers 119, Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics.
  10. Bloom, David E. & Mahal, Ajay S., 1997. "Does the AIDS epidemic threaten economic growth?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 105-124, March.
  11. de Walque, Damien, 2007. "How does the impact of an HIV/AIDS information campaign vary with educational attainment? Evidence from rural Uganda," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 686-714, November.
  12. Anne Case & Christina Paxson & Joseph Ableidinger, 2004. "Orphans in Africa: parental death, poverty, and school enrollment," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 41(3), pages 483-508, August.
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  15. Scott McDonald & Jennifer Roberts, 2004. "Aids and Economic Growth: A Human Capital Approach," Working Papers 2004008, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics, revised Aug 2004.
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  17. Alwyn Young, 2007. "In sorrow to bring forth children: fertility amidst the plague of HIV," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 283-327, December.
  18. Corrigan, Paul & Glomm, Gerhard & Mendez, Fabio, 2005. "AIDS crisis and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 107-124, June.
  19. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 2005. "Natural Selection and the Evolution of Life Expectancy," CEPR Discussion Papers 5373, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. Nils-Petter Lagerlöf, 2003. "From Malthus to Modern Growth: Can Epidemics Explain the Three Regimes?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(2), pages 755-777, 05.
  21. Hirshleifer, Jack, 1987. "Economic Behaviour in Adversity," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226342825.
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  23. Denis Cogneau & Michael Grimm, 2008. "The Impact of AIDS Mortality on the Distribution of Income in Côte d'Ivoire," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 17(5), pages 688-728, November.
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  25. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2002. "Economic status and health in childhood: the origins of the gradient," Working Papers 262, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  26. Galor, Oded, 2005. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 171-293 Elsevier.
  27. Clive Bell & Shantayanan Devarajan & Hans Gersbach, 2003. "The long-run economic costs of AIDS : theory and an application to South Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3152, The World Bank.
  28. BOUCEKKINE, RAOUF & de la CROIX, David & LICANDRO, Omar, 2004. "Modelling vintage structures with DDEs : principles and applications," CORE Discussion Papers 2004047, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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