Eye Disease and Development

50 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2011

See all articles by Thomas Barnebeck Andersen

Thomas Barnebeck Andersen

University of Southern Denmark - Department of Business and Economics

Carl‐Johan Dalgaard

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics

Pablo Selaya

University of Copenhagen

Date Written: August 31, 2011


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.

Keywords: comparative development, eye disease, climate

JEL Classification: O11, I00, Q54

Suggested Citation

Andersen, Thomas Barnebeck and Dalgaard, Carl-Johan Lars and Selaya, Pablo, Eye Disease and Development (August 31, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1923576 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1923576

Thomas Barnebeck Andersen (Contact Author)

University of Southern Denmark - Department of Business and Economics ( email )

Campusvej 55
DK-5230 Odense, 5000

Carl-Johan Lars Dalgaard

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics ( email )

Øster Farimagsgade 5
Bygning 26
1353 Copenhagen K.
+45 3532 4407 (Phone)

Pablo Selaya

University of Copenhagen ( email )

Department of Economics
Øster Farimagsgade 5
Copenhagen, 1353

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.ku.dk/pabloselaya

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