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From Cholera Outbreaks to Pandemics: The Role of Poverty and Inequality


  • Nejat Anbarci

    (Department of Economics, Florida International University)

  • Monica Escaleras

    () (Department of Economics, Florida Atlantic University)

  • Charles Register

    (Department of Economics, Florida Atlantic University)


Cholera and other diarrheal diseases are the second leading cause of death among the poor globally. The tragedy of this statistic is that it need not be the case. Unlike many afflictions, the impact of cholera can be greatly reduced, if not eliminated, through the collective action of clean water services. This begs the question of why such collective action is absent in much of the world. To address this, we first develop a theoretical model which indicates that the required collective action is an increasing function of both a country’s level of income and income equality. We test these predictions by analyzing 1,032 annual observations arising from 17 relatively poor countries between the years 1980 and 2002. The countries come from the Americas, Africa, and Asia. In the first part of the analysis, we find that the collective action of providing clean water is, as predicted, an increasing function of income and equality. Following this, we find that both the numbers of cases and deaths resulting from a given cholera outbreak are strongly and negatively related to the collective action.

Suggested Citation

  • Nejat Anbarci & Monica Escaleras & Charles Register, 2005. "From Cholera Outbreaks to Pandemics: The Role of Poverty and Inequality," Working Papers 05003, Department of Economics, College of Business, Florida Atlantic University, revised Feb 2006.
  • Handle: RePEc:fal:wpaper:05003

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dollar, David & Kraay, Aart, 2002. "Growth Is Good for the Poor," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 195-225, September.
    2. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 2000. "Tropical Underdevelopment," CID Working Papers 57, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
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    6. Easterly, William & Levine, Ross, 2003. "Tropics, germs, and crops: how endowments influence economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 3-39, January.
    7. Mattias Lundberg & Lyn Squire, 2003. "The simultaneous evolution of growth and inequality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(487), pages 326-344, April.
    8. Norman Gemmell & Oliver Morrissey, 2005. "Distribution and Poverty Impacts of Tax Structure Reform in Developing Countries: How Little We Know," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 23(2), pages 131-144, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Choe, Chongwoo & Raschky, Paul A., 2016. "Media, institutions, and government action: Prevention vs. palliation in the time of cholera," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 75-93.
    2. Chongwoo Choe & Paul A. Raschky, 2011. "Media, Democracy, and Government Action: Prevention vs. Palliation in the Time of Cholera," ISER Discussion Paper 0812, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.

    More about this item


    Cholera; diarrheal diseases; pandemics; per capita income; inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General

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