Malaria and Early African Development: Evidence from the Sickle Cell Trait

46 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2013

See all articles by Emilio Depetris-Chauvin

Emilio Depetris-Chauvin

Pontifical Catholic University of Chile

David N. Weil

Brown University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: October 2013

Abstract

We examine the effect of malaria on economic development in Africa over the very long run. Using data on the prevalence of the mutation that causes sickle cell disease we measure the impact of malaria on mortality in Africa prior to the period in which formal data were collected. Our estimate is that in the more afflicted regions, malaria lowered the probability of surviving to adulthood by about ten percentage points, which is roughly twice the current burden of the disease. The reduction in malaria mortality has been roughly equal to the reduction in other causes of mortality. We then ask whether the estimated burden of malaria had an effect on economic development in the period before European contact. Examining both mortality and morbidity, we do not find evidence that the impact of malaria would have been very significant. These model-based findings are corroborated by a more statistically-based approach, which shows little evidence of a negative relationship between malaria ecology and population density or other measures of development, using data measured at the level ethnic groups.

Suggested Citation

Depetris-Chauvin, Emilio and Weil, David Nathan, Malaria and Early African Development: Evidence from the Sickle Cell Trait (October 2013). NBER Working Paper No. w19603. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2348512

Emilio Depetris-Chauvin (Contact Author)

Pontifical Catholic University of Chile ( email )

Vicuna Mackenna 4860
Santiago, 99999
Chile

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/emiliodepetrischauvin/home

David Nathan Weil

Brown University - Department of Economics ( email )

Box B
Providence, RI 02912
United States
401-863-1754 (Phone)
401-863-1970 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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