The Rise and Fall of Pellagra in the American South

60 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2017 Last revised: 15 Sep 2017

See all articles by Karen Clay

Karen Clay

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Ethan Schmick

Muhlenberg College

Werner Troesken

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

Date Written: August 2017

Abstract

We explore the rise and fall of pellagra, a disease caused by inadequate niacin consumption, in the American South, focusing on the first half of the twentieth century. We first consider the hypothesis that the South’s monoculture in cotton undermined nutrition by displacing local food production. Consistent with this hypothesis, a difference-in-differences estimation shows that after the arrival of the boll weevil, food production in affected counties rose while cotton production and pellagra rates fell. The results also suggest that after 1937 improved medical understanding and state fortification laws helped eliminate pellagra.

Institutional subscribers to the NBER working paper series, and residents of developing countries may download this paper without additional charge at www.nber.org.

Suggested Citation

Clay, Karen B. and Schmick, Ethan and Troesken, Werner, The Rise and Fall of Pellagra in the American South (August 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23730. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3027834

Karen B. Clay (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Ethan Schmick

Muhlenberg College ( email )

Allentown, PA 18104
United States

Werner Troesken

University of Pittsburgh - Department of Economics ( email )

4901 Wesley Posvar Hall
230 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States
412-648-7451 (Phone)
412-648-9074 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
3
Abstract Views
118
PlumX Metrics