The Growth Costs of Malaria
Malaria ranks among the foremost health issues facing tropical countries. In this paper, we explore the determinants of cross-country differences in malaria morbidity, and examine the linkage between malaria and economic growth. Using a classification rule analysis, we confirm the dominant role of climate in accounting for cross-country differences in malaria morbidity. The data, however, do not suggest that tropical location is destiny: controlling for climate, we find that access to rural healthcare and income equality influence malaria morbidity. In a cross-section growth framework, we find a significant negative association between higher malaria morbidity and the growth rate of GDP per capita which is robust to a number of modifications, including controlling for reverse causation. The estimated absolute growth impact of malaria differs sharply across countries; it exceeds a quarter percent per annum in a quarter of the sample countries. Most of these are located in Sub-Saharan Africa (with an estimated average annual growth reduction of 0.55 percent).
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