Malaria and Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: Long-lasting Effects on Cognitive Abilities

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Lunds universitet/Ekonomisk-historiska institutionen

Sammanfattning: This dissertation endeavours to examine long-lasting sequels of malaria on economic development in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite the general consensus that countries where malaria is endemic are not only poorer but also grow economically at a slower pace than non-malarial ones, the channels through which malaria incidence translates into lower subsequent development are still under-examined. The aim of this thesis is assessing one of such channels, namely cognitive impairment. According to our hypothesis, malaria sufferers during childhood who survive see their cognition impaired because of the disease, which is reflected into lower human capital as adults and, consequently, affects economic outputs, not only at the individual level but at the aggregate one as well. By using Pearson’s Correlation Coefficients and bivariate and multivariate regressions, this study has found initial support for the hypothesized channel in sub-Saharan Africa. According to our preferred estimates, a one standard deviation increase in malaria ecology is associated to a 1.18 points reduction in IQ and a one-point increase in IQ would be associated on average, to a $268 increment in GDP per capita, when controlling for education. Moreover, results suggest a potential indirect effect of malaria on education via cognition as well. While remaining cautious about our results, we suggest that improvements in human capital need not be in the form of more education but rather in the form of better health outcomes that would allow for better-quality education by improving, for instance, cognition.

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