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The Contribution of Female Health to Economic Development

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  • Bloom, David E.

    () (Harvard University)

  • Kuhn, Michael

    () (Vienna Institute of Demography)

  • Prettner, Klaus

    () (University of Hohenheim)

Abstract

We analyze the economic consequences for less developed countries of investing in female health. In so doing we introduce a novel micro-founded dynamic general equilibrium framework in which parents trade off the number of children against investments in their education and in which we allow for health-related gender differences in productivity. We show that better female health speeds up the demographic transition and thereby the take-off toward sustained economic growth. By contrast, male health improvements delay the transition and the take-off because ceteris paribus they raise fertility. According to our results, investing in female health is therefore an important lever for development policies. However, and without having to assume anti-female bias, we also show that households prefer male health improvements over female health improvements because they imply a larger static utility gain. This highlights the existence of a dynamic trade-off between the short-run interests of households and long-run development goals. Our numerical analysis shows that even small changes in female health can have a strong impact on the transition process to a higher income level in the long run. Our results are robust with regard to a number of extensions, most notably endogenous investment in health care.

Suggested Citation

  • Bloom, David E. & Kuhn, Michael & Prettner, Klaus, 2015. "The Contribution of Female Health to Economic Development," IZA Discussion Papers 9268, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9268
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    Cited by:

    1. Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Venkataramani, Atheendar & Walther, Selma, 2018. "Fertility and Labor Market Responses to Reductions in Mortality," IZA Discussion Papers 11716, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Lisa L Kolovich & Sakina Shibuya, 2016. "Middle East and Central Asia; A Survey of Gender Budgeting Efforts," IMF Working Papers 16/151, International Monetary Fund.
    3. David E. BLOOM & Michael KUHN & Klaus PRETTNER, 2017. "Africa’s Prospects for Enjoying a Demographic Dividend," JODE - Journal of Demographic Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 83(1), pages 63-76, March.
    4. Klaus Prettner & Holger Strulik, 2017. "Gender equity and the escape from poverty," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(1), pages 55-74.
    5. Baldanzi, Annarita & Bucci, Alberto & Prettner, Klaus, 2017. "Children's health, human capital accumulation, and R&D-based economic growth," Hohenheim Discussion Papers in Business, Economics and Social Sciences 01-2017, University of Hohenheim, Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences.
    6. Pierre-Richard Agénor, 2018. "A Theory of Social Norms, Women's Time Allocation, and Gender Inequality in the Process of Development," Centre for Growth and Business Cycle Research Discussion Paper Series 237, Economics, The Univeristy of Manchester.
    7. David E. Bloom & Michael Kuhn & Klaus Prettner, 2016. "Africa’s Prospects for Enjoying a Demographic Dividend," VID Working Papers 1604, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna.
    8. Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Clarke, Damian & Gomes, Joseph & Venkataramani, Atheendar, 2018. "Maternal Mortality and Women's Political Participation," IZA Discussion Papers 11590, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Schünemann, Johannes & Bloom, David E. & Canning, David & Kotschy, Rainer & Prettner, Klaus, 2018. "Health and Economic Growth: Reconciling the Micro and Macro Evidence," Annual Conference 2018 (Freiburg, Breisgau): Digital Economy 181554, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    economic development; educational transition; female health; fertility transition; quality-quantity trade-off;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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