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Disease and Development: Evidence From The American South

Hoyt Bleakley
Journal of the European Economic Association
Vol. 1, No. 2/3, Papers and Proceedings of the Seventeenth Annual Congress of the European Economic Association (Apr. - May, 2003), pp. 376-386
Published by: Wiley on behalf of European Economic Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40005187
Page Count: 11
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Disease and Development: Evidence From The American South
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Abstract

Abstract Hookworm and malaria, parasites that remain a significant public health threat in the tropical belt today, were endemic in the American South as late as the first half of the twentieth century. I discuss how the successful eradication of malaria and hookworm in the American South affected human-capital accumulation. I find that areas that had higher levels of (malaria or hookworm) infection prior to eradication experienced greater increases in school attendance and literacy afterwards. Moreover, I find that adults earned substantially more if they were not exposed to these diseases as children. The estimates are large relative to the subsequent convergence between the North and South in the United States, but small compared to the cross-country distribution of income. Nevertheless, the results indicate potentially large benefits of public health interventions in developing countries.

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