Publication:
The Role of Historical Malaria in Institutions and Contemporary Economic Development

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Authors
Gooch, Elizabeth
Martinez-Vazquez, Jorge
Yedgenov, Bauyrzhan
Subjects
Malaria Endemicity
Institutions
Economic Development
European Colonization
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Date of Issue
2021-01
Date
Publisher
International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.Georgia State University
Language
en_US
Abstract
This research examines the causal impact of institutional quality on economic development from a novel perspective. At the country level, we exploit variation in the malaria prevalence in 1900, just before vector-control methods were developed, to instrument for institutional quality using a two-stage least squares instrumental variables framework. Our instrument is a population-weighted average of malaria endemicity estimates for the year 1900 developed by the WHO in the 1960s. We argue that this measure of historical malaria offers more expansive geographic information about the disease environment than other metrics, and our baseline IV estimates reveal that greater institutional quality causes greater contemporaneous economic growth. Next, we investigate the robustness of these baseline results to alternative explanations, including the role of geography and early colonizers’ experiences, as the causal link between the early disease environmental, institutional quality and contemporary growth. As an additional test of the explanatory power of malaria endemicity, we replace our instrument for settler mortality and replicate the core results from the seminal study on the colonial origins of comparative development by Acemoglu et al. (2001). In summary, we propose that malaria endemicity, estimated for 1900, holistically explains the legacy of early disease on institutional quality development and contemporary economic development.
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Report
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DRMI Working Paper Series
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32 p.
Citation
Gooch, Elizabeth, Jorge Martinez-Vazquez, and Bauyrzhan Yedgenov. The Role of Historical Malaria in Institutions and Contemporary Economic Development. International Center for Public Policy Working Paper 21-01. International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, 2021.
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