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Eye Disease and Development

Author

Listed:
  • Thomas Barnebeck Andersen

    (Department of Business and Economics, University of Southern Denmark)

  • Carl-Johan Dalgaard

    (Institute of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

  • Pablo Selaya

    (Institute of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

This research advances the hypothesis that cross-country variation in the historical incidence of eye disease has influenced the current global distribution of per capita income. The theory is that pervasive eye disease diminished the incentive to accumulate skills, thereby delaying the fertility transition and the take-off to sustained economic growth. In order to estimate the influence from eye disease incidence empirically, we draw on an important fact from the field of epidemiology: Exposure to solar ultraviolet B radiation (UVB-R) is an underlying determinant of several forms of eye disease; the most important being cataract, which is currently the leading cause of blindness worldwide. Using a satellite-based measure of UVB-R, we document that societies more exposed to UVB-R are poorer and underwent the fertility transition with a significant delay compared to the forerunners. These findings are robust to the inclusion of an extensive set of climate and geography controls. Moreover, using a global data set on economic activity for all terrestrial grid cells we show that the link between UVB-R and economic development survives the inclusion of country fixed effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Barnebeck Andersen & Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Pablo Selaya, 2011. "Eye Disease and Development," Discussion Papers 11-22, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:1122
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    File URL: http://www.econ.ku.dk/english/research/publications/wp/dp_2011/1122.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Alberto Basso & David Cuberes Vilalta, 2011. "Institutions, culture and the onset of the demographic transition," Working Papers. Serie AD 2011-13, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    2. Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Strulik, Holger, 2013. "The history augmented Solow model," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 134-149.
    3. Hansen, Casper Worm, 2013. "The diffusion of health technologies: Cultural and biological divergence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 21-34.
    4. Madsen, Jakob B., 2016. "Barriers to Prosperity: Parasitic and Infectious Diseases, IQ, and Economic Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 172-187.
    5. David Cuberes & Alberto Basso, 2012. "Human Capital, Culture and the Onset of the Demographic Transition," Working Papers 2012024, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.
    6. Francesco Cinnirella & Jochen Streb, 2013. "The Role of Human Capital and Innovation in Prussian Economic Development," CESifo Working Paper Series 4391, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Comparative development; eye disease; climate;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • I00 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General - - - General
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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