The Rise and Fall of Pellagra in the American South
The result of insufficient niacin consumption, pellagra caused more deaths than any other nutrition-related disease in American history, and it reached epidemic proportions in the South during the early 1900s. In this paper, we explore the forces that drove the rise and fall of pellagra. Historical observers have long-believed that pellagra stemmed from the South’s monoculture in cotton, which displaced the local production of nutritionally-rich foods. To test this hypothesis, we begin by showing that, at the county level, pellagra rates are positively correlated with cotton production. We then exploit the arrival of the boll weevil—which prompted Southern farmers to begin planting food instead of cotton—to show that this correlation is likely causal. We close by studying how fortification laws passed during the 1940s helped to eliminate pellagra.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
|Date of creation:||Aug 2017|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- McGuire, Robert & Higgs, Robert, 1977. "Cotton, corn, and risk in the nineteenth century: Another view," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 167-182, April.
- James Feyrer & Dimitra Politi & David N. Weil, 2017.
"The Cognitive Effects of Micronutrient Deficiency: Evidence from Salt Iodization in the United States,"
Journal of the European Economic Association,
European Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 355-387.
- James Feyrer & Dimitra Politi & David N. Weil, 2013. "The Cognitive Effects of Micronutrient Deficiency: Evidence from Salt Iodization in the United States," NBER Working Papers 19233, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Gregory T. Niemesh, 2015. "Ironing Out Deficiencies: Evidence from the United States on the Economic Effects of Iron Deficiency," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(4), pages 910-958.
- Depew, Briggs & Fishback, Price V. & Rhode, Paul W., 2013. "New deal or no deal in the Cotton South: The effect of the AAA on the agricultural labor structure," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 466-486.
- Briggs Depew & Price Fishback & Paul Rhode, 2012. "New Deal or No Deal in the Cotton South: The Effect of the AAA on the Agriculture Labor Structure," NBER Chapters,in: The Microeconomics of New Deal Policy National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Hoyt Bleakley, 2010. "Malaria Eradication in the Americas: A Retrospective Analysis of Childhood Exposure," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 1-45, April.
- Wright, Gavin, 1987. "The Economic Revolution in the American South," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 161-178, Summer.
- Lange, Fabian & Olmstead, Alan L. & Rhode, Paul W., 2009. "The Impact of the Boll Weevil, 1892–1932," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(03), pages 685-718, September.
- DeCanio, Stephen, 1973. "Cotton “Overproduction” in Late Nineteenth-Century Southern Agriculture," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 33(03), pages 608-633, September.
- Wright, Gavin & Kunreuther, Howard, 1975. "Cotton, Corn and Risk in the Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 35(03), pages 526-551, September.
- Biddle, Jeff E., 2011. "Making Consumers Comfortable: The Early Decades of Air Conditioning in the United States," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 71(04), pages 1078-1094, December.
- Karen Clay & Joshua Lewis & Edson Severnini, 2015. "Pollution, Infectious Disease, and Mortality: Evidence from the 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic," NBER Working Papers 21635, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Clay, Karen & Lewis, Joshua & Severnini, Edson R., 2015. "Pollution, Infectious Disease, and Mortality: Evidence from the 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic," IZA Discussion Papers 9399, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Hoyt Bleakley, 2007. "Disease and Development: Evidence from Hookworm Eradication in the American South," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 73-117.
- Cormac Ó Gráda, 1995. "The great Irish famine," Open Access publications 10197/363, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
- Dan A. Black & Seth G. Sanders & Evan J. Taylor & Lowell J. Taylor, 2015. "The Impact of the Great Migration on Mortality of African Americans: Evidence from the Deep South," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(2), pages 477-503, February.
- Wright, Gavin & Kunreuther, Howard, 1977. "Cotton, corn, and risk in the nineteenth century: A reply," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 183-195, April. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23730. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.