Three Essays on Disease and Economic Development
Aksan, Anna-Maria, 1982-
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Aksan, Anna-Maria, 1982-
This dissertation addresses the high disease burden in developing countries today by examining the role of disease in economic development through its impact on productivity, fertility and human capital investment. In the second chapter of this dissertation, I model the impact on labor productivity of a change in disease susceptibility that results from intellectual property rights (IPR) reform. I develop a North-South model in which the disease environments differ between the rich and poor countries, and individuals consume innovated health goods to avoid the cost (labor time lost) of getting a disease. Southern welfare is shown to increase with the imposition of IPR protection when health needs in the South differ sufficiently from those in the North, and when health goods are accessible (in terms of adequate health care infrastructure) and effective (in counteracting disease). In the third chapter of this dissertation, I model the impact of child disease burden on fertility and human capital investment. The fertility response to a decline in child mortality depends on the morbidity effect of the disease, the level of disease burden, and whether prevalence rates or case fatalities decline. Fertility rates follow mortality and morbidity, but since mortality and morbidity do not always move in the same direction, the fertility response may be dampened or non-monotonic. Using a 20-year panel data set on malaria prevalence for 44 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, I find empirical support for the cases defined by the model; changes in malaria prevalence affect fertility more in non-endemic areas, where cases are more severe and more fatal relative to endemic areas. Historical and biological evidence suggest a link between (infectious) diseases early in life and (non-infectious) diseases later in life. In Chapter IV I model this link using a three-period overlapping generations model in which childhood disease outcomes affect longevity. Simulations in a general equilibrium framework duplicate the defining characteristics of the epidemiological-demographic transition as it occurred in many industrialized countries: as disease declines parents engage in a quantity-quality tradeoff for children, longevity rises and population declines after an initial jump. This dissertation includes unpublished co-authored material.