Mosquitoes and Potatoes: How Global Health Crises Impede Development
37 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2021 Last revised: 8 Jul 2021
Date Written: May 20, 2021
The historical diffusion of potatoes to the Old World is an excellent example of how technological innovation contributes to the socioeconomic growth (Nunn and Qian, 2011). On the other hand poor health conditions might offset the benefits of the technological shocks. Here we examine the impact of malaria on the contribution of potato to the Old World’s development during the 18th and 19th centuries. We exploit local variations in land suitability for potato cultivation and malaria transmission to estimate and compare the impact of growing potato on urbanization and population growth in highly endemic and non-endemic areas. We show that local weather conditions ideal for malaria transmission counteracted the potential benefits of introducing the potato in the Old World. Our results highlight the interplay between technological change, public health, and development outcomes.
Keywords: Technological Innovation, Population, Urbanization, Malaria, Development
JEL Classification: I15, N50, O13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation